I'm in pastry school. Here's the quick, 6-ingredient pasta I make when I don't feel like cooking.

·4 min read
I'm in pastry school. Here's the quick, 6-ingredient pasta I make when I don't feel like cooking.
pasta on a plate
This five-ingredient pasta is so delicious and so easy to make.Susie Heller
  • After spending all day cooking and baking, the last thing I want to do is come home and cook more.

  • My favorite pasta dish only needs six ingredients, and the cooking process is mostly hands-off.

  • It's super flavorful, the add-in possibilities are endless, and it can easily be made vegan.

I'm in pastry school, work in a bakery, and have a few steady freelance writing gigs.

When I get home from a long day of baking in school or at work, the last thing I want to do is cook dinner.

Most nights, I go for something frozen, but I make my favorite basic tomato pasta about once a week.

I make this quick and easy pasta when I've had a long day at work

tomatoes, garlic, lemon, nutritional yeast, and butter
As simple as they are, these ingredients together make an impressive sauce.Susie Heller

The recipe is nothing groundbreaking: A sauce made of cherry tomatoes, butter, garlic, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and salt. I like to eat it with rigatoni because of the way the noodles soak up the sauce, but any pasta will work.

Most of the flavor comes from the cherry tomatoes, which are cooked in butter over low heat for about an hour until they rupture and produce a sweet, light sauce.

I almost always have everything I need for this pasta on hand, but it really is best in the summer when tomatoes are in season and naturally sweet.

This pasta dish impresses guests but is actually extremely easy to make

tomatoes, butter, garlic, and yeast in a dutch oven
Any sturdy pot should work fine for this step.Susie Heller

This pasta seems impressive, but it's actually pretty low effort and comes together in about an hour.

The minced garlic, whole cherry tomatoes, and 3 tablespoons of butter go into a heavy-bottomed pan, like a Dutch oven. I put a cover on the pan and let the tomatoes slowly cook for about 45 minutes.

At this point, the tomatoes should break open, creating a watery sauce. If any tomatoes remain whole, you can burst them with the back of a wooden spoon.

Meanwhile, I cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until just al dente (about seven minutes) and save about half a cup of pasta water before straining.

pasta in sauce
It may not look the best at this stage, but trust the process.Susie Heller

Add the pasta, nutritional yeast, remaining butter, and some reserved pasta water to the pot with the tomatoes and cook over medium heat.

The sauce may look thick and mealy — this is normal. Keep stirring, adding additional reserved pasta water as needed.

After a few minutes of continuous stirring, add a final pat of butter and the juice of a lemon.

I typically serve this with sautéed kale and some crusty bread to mop up any extra sauce.

The real beauty of this recipe is that it's endlessly customizable

pasta in a bowl
This simple pasta is great for the summer time and so quick to make.Susie Heller

This pasta is easy to make, and it's endlessly customizable to what you have on hand and what you like. I've yet to find a combination that isn't good.

Blooming a tablespoon of miso paste in the reserved pasta water creates a sweet, nutty flavor. Adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of gochujang, a Korean fermented red-pepper paste, makes for a spicy, sweet sauce. Finishing with a splash of heavy cream or coconut milk transforms the dish into something like penne alla vodka.

Parmesan cheese is also a great swap for nutritional yeast, and it's often easier to find at the store. Onions, scallion whites, and shallots can all be used in place of or in addition to the garlic.

You can even make the recipe vegan with any plant-based butter alternative.

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 5 tablespoons of salted butter, divided

  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, whole

  • 1/3 box of rigatoni, or any pasta shape

  • 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast

  • 1 large lemon, juiced

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Peel and chop three to four cloves of garlic, and place them in a heavy-bottomed dish (like a Dutch oven) over low heat with the tomatoes and 3 tablespoons of butter. Cook covered for one hour — stirring halfway through — until the tomatoes start to burst.

  2. Bring a pot of salted water to boil over high heat and add 1/3 box of pasta. Cook until just under al dente, about seven to eight minutes. Strain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water.

  3. Before adding the cooked pasta to the tomatoes, squish any remaining whole tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon.

  4. Add the pasta, some reserved pasta water, nutritional yeast, and 1 tablespoon of butter to the tomatoes, adding more pasta water as needed. Stir continuously until water evaporates, creating a thick sauce.

  5. Finish with salt, the remaining butter, and lemon juice. Stir until the sauce coats the pasta and appears glossy.

  6. Serve in individual bowls with salt and pepper to taste.

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