5 Ingredients or Fewer

Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta With Crispy Capers

February 22, 2022
24 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine. Food Stylist: Adrienne Anderson.
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

A weeknight pasta with the mood of a weekend bagel.

Just like the names suggest, cream cheese plus sun-dried tomatoes equals a supremely creamy, cheesy tomato sauce—two ingredients, zero fuss. All it needs is a big splash of salty, starchy pasta water to yield an Alfredo-like consistency, ideal for hugging long noodles. I’m a fan of spaghetti and bucatini here, but fettuccine, linguini, or even ramen would all be great. (And, yes, a short shape, like rigatoni, would work in a pinch.)

Make sure you get sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, since that comes in handy for the fried capers, which you shouldn’t skip, because they are so salty, so crunchy, so good. It doesn’t matter how the sun-dried tomatoes are cut in the jar (larger or julienned), since they’re getting minced anyway—this means lots of concentrated, awesome tomato flavor in every bite.

If you know you’re making this in advance, taking the cream cheese out of the fridge 30 minutes or so before getting started makes incorporating the sun-dried tomatoes a smidge easier. But you know what? I’ve forgotten to do that many times—and it always works out just fine. —Emma Laperruque

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta With Crispy Capers
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup (2 ounces) minced sun-dried tomatoes, oil reserved
  • 3 tablespoons capers, patted dry
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 ounces spaghetti or bucatini
  • Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
  1. Set a large pot of water over high heat to come to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, use a fork to mash the minced tomatoes into the cream cheese, until the cream cheese is rosy.
  3. Set a small skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of tomato oil. Add the capers and cook, stirring once or twice, for 2 to 4 minutes, until they’re puffed and starting to brown. Turn off the heat, then use a fork to transfer them to a towel–lined plate.
  4. When the water is boiling, generously season it with salt. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Just before the pasta is done, scoop out about 1 cup of pasta water.
  5. While stirring with a fork, pour ¼ cup of pasta water into the tomato cream cheese. Use tongs to add the pasta and toss to coat, adding more pasta water to sight (about ⅓ cup for me) until the consistency is where you want it, keeping in mind that it will thicken as it cools. Season to taste with salt.
  6. Divide the pasta between two shallow bowls or plates and evenly top with the fried capers, plus black pepper or red pepper flakes if you’d like.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • plotto
  • Beth Bardin
    Beth Bardin
  • rroseperry
  • Manhattan Tart
    Manhattan Tart
  • stevemr
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

26 Reviews

Andrew M. February 21, 2023
When one considers the ease of making this dish with the superb flavour it offers, it seems almost magical. As for sun-dried tomatoes now being 'out of fashion', that's fine: there are more for the rest of us. Sun-dried tomatoes are still as delicious as they were when popular. Fashion is fleeting, style is forever.
plotto June 1, 2022
We love this! Even made it with dairy-free cream cheese and even my NOT-dairy-free sister enjoyed the dish! Crispy Capers!!
Beth B. May 15, 2022
Delicious! Simple and full of flavour. Topped with a little “chili onion crunch” from Trader Joe’s and served with a bright crisp salad. Definitely going into the rotation.
Sinamen78 February 22, 2023
Great idea. We love Chili Onion Crunch. Use it on many things.
MotherHood May 9, 2022
Yuck. This was not good. I followed the directions to the letter and it tasted like nothing. The capers never got crispy. It was salty but not flavorful.
rroseperry March 16, 2022
Satisfying and quick. I threw some garlic in with the capers because I love garlic, but it’s fine without.

Laura March 1, 2022
Made it last night according to the guidelines:) I used reduced fat cream cheese and it was still creamy. I thought it was comforting, easy and hit all of the cravings at once. Kid thought it could use some garlic next time and we may try that next time, but all in all a winner for those nights when you just want to shovel some comforting tasty pasta in your gullet quickly. Thank you!
Jacque February 27, 2022
What a great option for a comforting, warm bowl of pasta with simple pantry staples - this makes a wonderfully creamy and subtle sauce. Actually halved the recipe as I was only cooking for myself, didn't bother frying the capers and added some tinned tuna - yum!
Noel February 26, 2022
Emma, we enjoyed this recipe! Comes together so quickly and was delicious! We topped ours with fresh cracked pepper and chili crisp. Will definitely be making again.

I feel like this would be awesome to make sometime with some roasted red peppers too!
Eilidhmack February 25, 2022
One of my favourite of Emma's recipes - really delicious and filling.
Manhattan T. February 25, 2022
My husband liked this better than I did. Don't get me wrong: it was good for such a limited ingredient list. That said, I didn't love the tang of the cream cheese and thought that, given some additional time, some shallots/garlic/basill might've helped. Next time I'll try it w/ mascarpone...
Yvonne N. February 24, 2022
I was excited about this simple recipe and made it last night. Unfortunately, I didn't like it, and it will not be making it into the rotation. I would agree that the tomato flavor was not assertive enough; the cream cheese was quite overwhelming, and I felt a bit queasy after eating. I also thought about adding tomato paste. I think the amount of sun-dried tomato might be off. I added well over 2 ounces but it was not enough. Also, when I mixed it with the cream cheese (left out for over an hour), it looked like cottage cheese - it did not break up until I mixed it with the pasta.
Redsoie16 February 24, 2022
Agree we just made it and it was not good at all. I'm surprised but the 5 star ratings.
stevemr February 23, 2022
Made this tonight and really enjoyed it. I do have a question --- I think we would have liked it even more if the tomato flavor was a little more assertive. Any suggestions? Would upping the amount of sun-dried tomatos do that? We thought maybe adding a tbsp of tomato paste, but wouldn't that have to be gently cooked before adding it to the tomato/cream cheese mix? Any thoughts?
Cathy M. April 3, 2022
How about using the tomato paste that comes in a tube?
Bonnie February 23, 2022
Made this last night. So easy and delicious and the crisped capers were inspired. Thanks for another great recipe Emma.
Toddie February 22, 2022
Can anyone suggest a topping to replace the capers? I detest them but I would like to add something crunchy as a topping. I was thinking panko toasted in a bit of the oil, but I'm open to suggestions.
Marsha S. February 23, 2022
What about seasoned croutons..place in a baggie and pound them to the consistency you would like!

waltharr February 23, 2022
Try Muddica which is Sicilian Toasted Bread Crumbs. You can Google for recipes.
Manhattan T. February 25, 2022
After making this, I'm less intrigued by the capers, too. My husband and I both agreed that seasoned panko, toasted in olive oil w/ maybe a bit of anchovy (totally indistiguishable, since it melts into the hot oil), or even chopped, toasted walnuts would be preferable to the capers.
Ron H. February 22, 2023
We stumbled upon the easy-creamy pasta concept a couple years back - which has myriad variations based on easy / practical subs of what you have in hand…cream cheese is good, but so are Boursin (try all the different flavours), and chevre, (herbed, w honey, black pepper) and assorted pestos sub in for plain sun dried tomatoes - we have a sun dried tomato w walnut & chili - which while still a single ingredient, brings more layers of flavour and options for crunchy toppings (toasted breadcrumbs, walnuts, pine nuts, etc)
ksdonlan February 22, 2022
Can't WAIT to try this! One question: did I see you use a grinder for the capers as you sprinkled them on top?
Marsha S. February 23, 2022
To my understanding, watching the video;she used a pepper mill and ground the black pepper itself!
Cathy M. April 3, 2022
She used her fingers to sprinkle them on.
Cathie February 22, 2022
Simple and wonderful-sounding. Great explanation of ingredients. Only thing you forgot was to pour yourself a glass of wine!
Suzanne H. February 22, 2022
This looks delicious. I get tired of the same old pasta sauce and this is totally different. Thank you. I can't wait to try it.