Olive-Oil-Poached Cherry Tomato Sauce


With ingredients like this, I know I’m going to love this recipe…

olive-oil-poached cherry tomato sauce | Cooking Classy

olive-oil-poached cherry tomato sauce | Cooking Classy

Partway through simmering and I just want to dive in now.


olive oil poached cherry tomato sauce | Cooking Classy

After an hour of simmering that pot of goodness turns into this pot of goodness (not quite as pretty, but oh so flavorful and merrily blended).

olive oil poached cherry tomato sauce | Cooking Classy

This pasta could really use some saucy love don’t you think?

olive-oil-poached cherry tomato sauce | Cooking Classy

Yes, much better.

olive oil poached cherry tomato sauce | Cooking Classy

olive oil poached cherry tomato sauce | Cooking Classy

I stumbled upon this recipe while I was browsing the web for reviews on the best restaurants to try in Washington DC (we may be headed that way for a few months and of course my first thought is, where are we going to eat? Not, where are we going to live? :). Getting the recipe actually happened by accident. I was just planning to go to the restaurant to try this pasta and when I typed in the name of the pasta in a search (because I couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant and needed to write it down) a recipe came up for it from the Washington Post as well. I accept! Then of course I went right ahead and made it the next day. I have such a weakness for good Italian food. Lots of fresh tomatoes, check. Loads of garlic, check. A cupful of olive oil, check. And plenty of fresh basil, of course, check. I knew it had to be good. And yes, it’s far better than good, it’s unbelievably delicious.

You may be nervous about that much garlic but after simmering for over an hour it’s flavor mellows way down and the harsh bite of the garlic is diminished. Its like roasting garlic, it’s potency turns to nearly sweet once it’s roasted. Just keep a tic tac close by (do they still sell those?). Another thing, I was washing my face after I made this, and even though I had washed my hands many times since I’d been chopping that much garlic it still got me good just as my hands were rubbing around my whole face and right across my nose. Wow. I probably smell like a walking clove of garlic (which I don’t really mind but I’m sure my husband would say otherwise :). If you want to get rid of the smell, yes you can buy those stainless steel bars that mimic the shape of a bar of soap or you can just rub your hands around your stainless steel sink for the same effect to remove the odor. I just always forget I guess, until I’m enjoying the scent of my minty face soap and suddenly it’s strangely mingling with the scent of garlic. With the garlic smell on your hands, in your kitchen and throughout your home it’s worth it if it means this silky, lightly sweet, rich and authentic style, olive-oil-poached cherry tomato sauce awaits. Oh and if you are ever in DC I’d recommend stopping by Graffiato’s (where I adapted this recipe from). If everything else is as good as this sauce then I might have to find my way there each week. Enjoy!

One more thing, if you have a carnivorous husband like me, feel free to add some sort of protein to a portion of the sauce. I added Italian sausage for my husband otherwise I wasn’t sure if he’d eat it. You could add ground beef, pork, turkey or Italian sausage. I say it most definitely doesn’t need it but if you prefer sauce with meat then of course you could add some.


Olive Oil Poached Cherry Tomato Sauce


  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz . shallots , shaved or thinly sliced (1 cup)
  • 2 heads of garlic , shaved or thinly sliced (3/4 cup)*
  • 24 oz . cherry tomatoes**
  • 2 cups canned , drained plum tomatoes, crushed (I just crushed them with my hands)
  • 1/8 tsp sugar
  • 8 stems fresh basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
  • crushed red pepper flakes , to taste (optional)


  1. Combine olive oil and shallots in a pot over low heat and cook 10 - 12 minutes until shallots become translucent and soft. Stir in garlic while coating entirely with oil, cook for 15 minutes until garlic has softened. Add in cherry tomatoes, crushed plum tomatoes and sugar, cook 20 minutes. Stir in fresh basil stems, partially cover pot and allow mixture to cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until cherry tomatoes have burst and deflated and the mixture has turned to a rich sauce.
  2. Discard basil or remove some of the leaves from stems and reserve in sauce (I ripped some of the leaves off and kept them in the sauce, it couldn't just toss it all :). Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste and stir in red pepper flakes to taste if desired. Toss sauce with pasta of choice and serve topped with chopped fresh basil for garnish if desired.
  3. *I used 3/4 cup but the original recipe stated you could use 1 cup garlic or reduce to 1/2 cup. This for me was about 2 heads of garlic to get 3/4 cup.
  4. **Original recipe listed 17 oz (4 cups) cherry tomatoes but I decided to add more, so if you only have 17 oz that's enough. Another side note, sugar not listed in the original recipe.
  5. Recipe Source: adapted from Graffiato via Washington Post


  • Charul @ Tadka Masala: Ohh.. that looks so yumm! I love trying random finds like this and if they turn out good.. nothing better than that! :) May 26, 2013 at 9:40am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Charul! And yes it’s true :). May 26, 2013 at 9:52am Reply

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar: This sauce sounds absolutely perfect! Love how you swirled those noodles too :) May 26, 2013 at 10:36am Reply

  • Peggi: Oh I am SO trying this! AND, I love that you gave me a tip for getting garlic smell off my hands … I never heard that and I will definitely check it out when I make this sauce.
    I just found your website after googling “best chocolate cake” (which btw, I am making for tomorrow’s cookout) and I am loving it! May 26, 2013 at 6:37pm Reply

  • Cheri | Kitchen Simplicity: This looks so good! I love that it uses both canned and fresh tomatoes. Must make soon! May 27, 2013 at 12:57pm Reply

  • Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes): OMG! That spaghetti is perfection. It looks so classic and so fantastic with simple flavors, just how tomato sauce should be. Poaching the cherries are too smart! May 27, 2013 at 4:55pm Reply

  • Julie @ Table for Two: This sounds like a wonderful pasta sauce, I am going to have to have all of that garlic goodness. May 27, 2013 at 7:44pm Reply

  • Victoria: Looks delicious! But two HEADS of garlic? OMG! May 28, 2013 at 3:24am Reply

  • Miche: Fantastic looking recipe!

    I live in DC, and I highly recommend you check out Graffiato! Also, if you like Italian food, Acqua Al II is not to be missed. May 28, 2013 at 7:45am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Miche I’ll love Italian food so I’ll have to try it out! May 28, 2013 at 9:25am Reply

  • Siobhan: Graffiato is definitely worth a visit, but not for that dish. As you’ve demonstrated, it can be made quite nicely at home.

    I also recommend Zaytinya for small plates Mediterranean, Brasserie Beck for Belgian and Lavagna for a really excellent brunch. May 28, 2013 at 7:54am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for the recommendations! May 28, 2013 at 9:24am Reply

  • amanda @ fake ginger: So fresh and yummy! It’s gorgeous! May 28, 2013 at 8:38am Reply

  • Belinda @themoonblushbaker: Confit vegetables own my heart! Such perfect photos too. I can not wait to try this variation on pasta sauce May 28, 2013 at 9:05am Reply

  • violeta: OMG! Looking at this recipe is making my mouth water!
    cheers,violeta May 28, 2013 at 9:53am Reply

  • Nafisa: I just cannot wait to try this recipe.I have had a craving for a good Italian tomato sauce and this sounds delicious.picture looks mouth watering. Thanks. May 28, 2013 at 2:59pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Nafisa! I hope you love this! June 1, 2013 at 9:45am Reply

  • angela @ another bite please: I would want to jump right into that too…this kind of sauce looks so amazing. I can’t wait to make…going to farmers market tomorrow to get fresh ingredients love…and Washington DC..have fun…we went years ago and it was one of our favorite vacas…so much history. May 28, 2013 at 5:00pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Angela :)! June 1, 2013 at 9:40am Reply

  • Lida: Absolutely delicious! Made it two nights in a row! June 2, 2013 at 7:02pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: That’s awesome Lida! I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks so much for your comment! June 2, 2013 at 9:45pm Reply

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  • Friday Favorites + Kitchen Favorites Giveaway! | Iowa Girl Eats: […] slurp: Olive-Oil Poached Cherry Tomato Sauce. Gosh, speaking of tomato season, I can’t wait to put a big batch of Sweet 100s to good use […] June 7, 2013 at 11:24am Reply

  • Kristie: I am soo making this a little later this summer, we will have lots of tomatoes and already have fresh basil growing in the garden.

    Is there anyway to use less oil? Is the oil left in the sauce? Also, can’t use the Garlic, any suggestions on a replacement? I may use a sprinkle to get the taste.

    Thank you! June 8, 2013 at 8:09am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yes you could reduce the amount of oil, you obviously have a different outcome that won’t be quite as rich but still a delicious sauce. As far as replacements for garlic there’s not really one that I can think of that would make a good replacement. Shallots are similar to garlic so maybe you could up the amount slightly. I think you may also want to add in some more herbs (like thyme, marjoram, parsley, or rosemary) to get a little more flavor somehow because the garlic in this recipe brings a good amount of flavor. June 8, 2013 at 6:27pm Reply

  • Hooray for Saturday. | ShugaMama: […] {Pasta} Mmm this pasta looks heavenly! Perfect for garden fresh veggies this […] June 8, 2013 at 9:17am Reply

  • Sam: I can’t wait to try this at home. Definitely check out Graffiato — the sweet corn agnolotti in the summer is incredible! June 9, 2013 at 7:22am Reply

  • Mel: I’m new to cooking. Are you supposed to drain the extra sauce off of the canned tomatoes or put it in the mixture? Thanks. June 19, 2013 at 2:54pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I drained it in this recipe, it would probably be okay with it I just didn’t want the extra juice. I hope you try this and love it Mel! June 19, 2013 at 7:54pm Reply

  • Tracy B: I made this last night for my boyfriend’s birthday. It was a huge hit…he raved and I agree. It’s so fresh tasting and we have these ingredients on hand typically. This is a 10!
    Thank you! June 20, 2013 at 12:26pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you and your boyfriend liked this pasta sauce Tracy – and happy Birthday to him :)! Thanks for leaving a comment! June 20, 2013 at 8:09pm Reply

  • Ashley B: I made this sauce tonight and it was perfect. This is the first year I’ve ever done a garden and I had a ton of extra cherry tomatoes. I followed your recipe til the end where I decided to separate some of the olive oil out. there was a good bit that kept rising to the top. after i did that, the taste and consistency was perfect. this was the first time ive ever made sauce (we always buy from a jar) and this was a million times better. I’m confident enough in this recipe to make it for the next family gathering.
    Thank You! August 10, 2014 at 3:32pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Ashley! August 25, 2014 at 3:02pm Reply

  • Megan: With a huge cherry tomato crop this summer, I’ve made this sauce twice (quadruped the recipe each time – that’s a LOT of garlic!). Aside from the time it takes to peel that much garlic, I love how simple the recipe is. I chose to pulse the sauce (in batches) in the blender at the end, resulting in a really rich and almost creamy sauce. I canned most of the sauce and have many jars in the pantry so that we can enjoy these bright summer flavors through the winter. September 8, 2014 at 7:26am Reply

    • Jaclyn: How I wish I had a canner to do the same :)! I’m glad you like this recipe Megan, thanks for your comment! September 8, 2014 at 10:01am Reply

  • Lindsay: Whew! It might be the dead of winter, but I’ve got to open a window while this cooks. :-) January 22, 2015 at 3:58pm Reply

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