Summer

Turn Your Cherry Tomatoes Into This Easy, Creamy Pasta Sauce

With a secret ingredient that makes it extra luscious.

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June 21, 2019
Photo by Bobbi Lin. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis.

We've partnered with Hood Cream, makers of great-tasting, high-quality cream, to share a weeknight dinner recipe we'll be making all summer long: a cherry tomato pasta that gets its creaminess from half-and-half!


When I was a toddler, I’d go to lunch with my great-grandma Ethel a lot. We would hit up old-school New Jersey diners, where ketchup is always on the table, and you can order a world-class turkey club. But, as my family loves to remind me, my favorite thing wasn’t a menu item.

It was half-and-half.

Half-and-half is just what it sounds like: half cream, half milk. It’s creamy, but not too creamy, perfect for hot coffee or a toddler with no manners. While my mom and grandma scoffed, Ethel fed me little cup after little cup of half-and-half, and I loved her for it.

Photo by Bobbi Lin. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis.

In the couple decades since, not much has changed. Though I don’t drink it straight anymore, I still adore half-and-half. I turn it into creamed greens, French toast, ice cream, and more.

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Top Comment:
“Interesting! I need to try this version. I make almost the exact same thing except grate whatever hard Italian cheese I have in the fridge rather than use half and half. Sometimes I add toasted pine nuts. ”
— rainbow G.
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But, as soon as summer hits, my favorite way to use half-and-half is tomato sauce.

Most times of the year, tomato sauce means me opening a can of whole-peeled tomatoes and simmering them into oblivion. In the warmer months, though, it means just the opposite.

Here’s the gist: Add a bunch of cherry tomatoes to a scorching- hot pan and cook them until their skins start to char and split. Mix in a couple of anchovy fillets and garlic cloves, both minced, and some red pepper flakes; you won’t be able to pinpoint these flavors in the finished sauce, but they make everything better, trust me. Pour in a whole cup of half-and-half (yep!) and simmer until it's lush and rich.

I like this best with a short-shaped pasta (like penne, fusilli, or cavatappi), but really, it’ll work with whatever shape you like best. It’s the sort of easy weeknight meal that makes the perfect end to a long day—especially if you eat it outside in the sun.

What's your favorite way to use half-and-half? Tell us in the comments below!

It's no secret that half-and-half makes the best addition to a cup of coffee—be it a refreshing batch of cold brew or a hot French press—but we love cooking with it, too. We've partnered with Hood Cream to share our go-to summer recipes, like this creamy tomato pasta sauce from Emma Laperruque, a food writer, recipe developer, and Big Little Recipes whiz. This season-ready pasta is simple enough for a weeknight, but impressive enough for company, and it's made even easier and more delicious thanks to the addition of half-and-half.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Amy Laperruque
    Amy Laperruque
  • Noreen Fish
    Noreen Fish
  • rainbow girl
    rainbow girl
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles on the fly, baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., and writing about the history of pie in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's award-winning column, Big Little Recipes (also the cookbook in October 2021!). And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

3 Comments

Amy L. June 28, 2019
I literally now can see you and Nana Ethel sitting at the Glenwood Diner and you sipping those teeny half & half cups and piling the empties up on the booth table while Nana ate her egg salad! Also being a cherry tomato devotee with so many growing in the garden this sounds amazing for the summer months!
 
Noreen F. June 24, 2019
I rarely buy half-and-half, but generally have both cream and whole milk in the refrigerator, so if I use a half-cup of each, it should be pretty close!
 
rainbow G. June 21, 2019
Interesting! I need to try this version. I make almost the exact same thing except grate whatever hard Italian cheese I have in the fridge rather than use half and half. Sometimes I add toasted pine nuts.