Quick and Easy

Balsamic-Roasted Red Onion & Cherry Tomato Pasta

July 20, 2022
11 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

My boyfriend and I have been making this simple yet extraordinarily delicious pasta for almost a decade. It's especially perfect during the summer when tomatoes are juicy and ripe, though I've been known to make it in the dead of winter when I need a kick of bright, fresh flavor. To this day we still don't know exactly who invented the recipe, but it was likely inspired by a Jamie Oliver dish (old Naked Chef episodes are regularly rewatched in this house). The magic comes from the balsamic vinegar and a single sheet pan: the tangy acidity of the balsamic sweetens as it caramelizes the tomatoes and onions, while the aluminum foil-wrapped garlic softens and mellows as they all roast together in the oven. In fact, this recipe is one of the few reasons to turn on your oven during the hottest months of the year—you just can't get that same level of sticky-sweet goodness on the stovetop. (The easy cleanup doesn't hurt either.)

Once everything's all roasty-toasty (about 20 minutes, give or take), mush the garlic on the sheet pan, throw the cooked pasta right on top, add a few sprigs of basil, and toss everything together. Use any pasta shape you like, but I prefer the twistier shapes, like fusilli or casarecce, since they catch the sauce created from the balsamic and tomatoes in their nooks and crannies best. Speaking of riffing, this recipe was made for adding your own spin: swap out or add more veggies (summer squash is always a great idea), dollop some fresh ricotta on top of your plate (or even better, a hunk of burrata), or ditch the grated Parm for ricotta salata instead (its saltiness is the perfect foil to the sweetness in the dish). If you're cooking for a crowd, scaling up the recipe's a breeze—you'll just need an extra sheet pan or two. Pair with a glass of crisp rosé, hunks of crusty bread, and an easygoing salad for the ultimate summer meal. —Erin Alexander

What You'll Need
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (about 10 ounces)
  • 1/2 large red onion, sliced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and with the root end cut off
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pinch salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 pinch black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 8 ounces fusili pasta
  • 1 large handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Combine the cherry tomatoes and red onion on a medium-size sheet pan. Drizzle the tomatoes and onion with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and season them with with a pinch of salt and pepper. (You can add an extra splash of balsamic or olive oil if it’s looking a little dry.) Toss everything on the sheet pan to combine (I like to use my hands).
  3. Wrap the garlic cloves in aluminum foil (they should make a little wrapped ball) and place on the sheet pan.
  4. Roast the tomatoes, onion, and garlic cloves in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the balsamic has reduced and caramelized the onions (they might be a little crispy on the edges) and the tomatoes are soft and blistered.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti al dente, according to package instructions. Drain in a colander, making sure to reserve a bit of pasta water.
  6. When the red onions and cherry tomatoes are ready, pull them out of the oven. Carefully unwrap the garlic gloves and, using a fork, mash them on the sheet pan until they are soft and broken up.
  7. Sprinkle the basil, plus another pinch of salt and pepper, over the sheet pan and toss to combine with the mashed garlic, tomatoes, and onion.
  8. Add the pasta to the sheet pan, plus a splash of pasta water and toss to combine. Serve warm, sprinkled with Parmigiano-Reggiano and extra basil sprigs, if you like.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Dariusz
  • Erin Alexander
    Erin Alexander
  • k9loves
  • mlsjazz

9 Reviews

Dariusz December 4, 2023
Somewhat bland in my opinion, it is simple and lacks some outstanding flavour. Will give it another chance in the future, though.
k9loves October 5, 2022
This recipe had a lot of potential. However, I doubled it, and the amount of red onion was overpowering. My guests ended up picking them out and creating large piles on their plates with the remainder of the dish being delicious. I would recommend 1/2 of the amount of red onion. It is a very easy dish to make.
mlsjazz September 25, 2022
Absolutely delicious! Served over capellini instead of the fusilli. Very nice dish!
Jess September 8, 2022
This was so good. Perfect as is! So quick, easy and minimal clean up. Added Italian sausage for the carnivores. Thanks!!
Ajmeser April 3, 2022
This was fast, delicious and easy! Family are it all up.
Mike E. October 1, 2019
Just made this on a stormy early autumn evening and it was delicious! Had all the ingredients on hand. Didn’t/wouldn’t change a thing. There wasn’t a speck left on the baking tray which made for easy clean-up.
Erin A. October 2, 2019
I'm so glad to hear it!
chris September 23, 2019
Excellent and easy!
Sandy A. August 9, 2019
Definitely a new one that I will try!! 🍝🙌