Blistered cherry tomato pasta

February 9, 2021

By Chef Jessica Van Roo, assistant director of Culinary Recreation & Experiential Programs at UC Irvine

Serves 4 – 6 ppl


  • 1 pound pasta
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 10 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
  • 3 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, or 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped baby spinach
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmesan


1. Cook pasta according to package, place drained pasta in a bowl, and reserve at least ¼ cup of the pasta water.

2. Heat a large pan, at least 12” wide over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add oil, garlic, and chili flakes (if using) into the pan. Cook until garlic is fragrant and try not to let it brown. So, turn down the heat if necessary.

3. Add cherry tomatoes and vinegar into the pan cook until tomatoes burst and sauce begins to form about 5- 6 minutes.

4. Add basil, spinach, reserved pasta water and cook until spinach wilts, toss with cooked pasta and cheese. Season with salt and pepper as desired.