Creamy sun dried tomato pasta is a delicious and easy-to-make pasta dish that is perfect for any occasion. The sun-dried tomatoes add a tangy, slightly sweet flavor that pairs perfectly with the rich creaminess of the sauce. So, whether you're cooking for a weeknight dinner or a special occasion, this sun-dried tomato pasta is a crowd-pleasing dish that will knock your socks off!
This post contains helpful tips and tricks! If you're in a rush, please use the "Jump to Recipe" below!
💭 Why you'll love this recipe
- Rich and creamy flavor. Sun-dried tomatoes have a unique flavor that's both tangy and slightly sweet. When combined with ricotta and Parmesan, it creates a rich and creamy flavor profile that's truly unique and delicious.
- Quick and easy. This sun dried tomato pasta is ready in just 30 minutes, making it a perfect option for busy weeknights (just like my authentic cacio e pepe and penne pomodoro recipes!)
- One pot recipe. Make the pasta, set aside in a colander, make the sauce, and you're done without needing to wash yet another pot!
📋 Ingredients and notes
To make this easy, creamy sun dried tomato pasta you'll need penne rigate, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, fresh lemon juice, fresh garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, sun dried tomatoes (the kind stored in olive oil), salt, and pepper.
Notes and Variations
- Type of sun dried tomatoes. The best type of sun dried tomatoes are oil-packed sun dried tomatoes. The oil helps to bring out their flavor and adds a delightful richness to the creamy sauce. If you're using regular ones, soak them in hot water for 10 minutes to rehydrate, and then chop them before adding to the dish. This ensures that they'll cook properly.
- Choice of pasta. Short pasta works best (I used penne) but you can totally use long pasta (check level of pasta water to ensure the right consistency of the sauce). I used regular wheat pasta, but you can use whole wheat pasta, chickpea pasta, or even lentil pasta, but follow package directions and know texture might be slightly different!
- Choice of cheese. I use ricotta and Parmesan since they bring a great balance of creamy and nutty cheese flavors. You can also use cream cheese, goat cheese, sour cream, Pecorino or other cheese of your choice.
- Make this vegan. To make this recipe vegan-friendly, simply substitute ricotta and parmesan with plant-based versions! I love using Kite Hill ricotta or cream cheese and Violife hard cheese for making a vegan version of this pasta.
- Use sun dried tomato pesto. You can use sun dried tomato pesto instead of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes here. The pesto adds a more nutty flavor to the dish and tastes really delicious!
📖 How to make creamy sun dried tomato pasta
First, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta and set aside.
Once the pasta is cooked, add olive oil or oil from the sun-dried tomatoes to the same pot. Sauté garlic and sun-dried tomatoes in the tomato oil until fragrant. If using garlic powder, add with salt and pepper instead.
Add ricotta, Parmesan, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Combine together.
Add enough of the reserved pasta water to create a cream sauce. Then add cooked pasta back to pot and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until heated through. Make sure the ingredients don't clump together and add more pasta water as required to maintain the right consistency of the cream sauce.
Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Then, serve immediately (garnish with pepper flakes, more parmesan cheese and fresh or dry basil as desired!)
👩🏽🍳 Four tips to make the best creamy sun dried tomato pasta!
- Choose your pasta wisely. I recommend using a shorter noodle in this dish since they hold the sauce well and provide a smooth, rich texture. However, you can use long pasta as well - just make sure to adjust the pasta water so the sauce is your desired texture.
- Don’t overcook the pasta. You want to make sure that you don’t overcook your pasta initially, since you'll finish cooking it in the sauce. Else, it will become mushy and unappetizing.
- Use quality sun-dried tomatoes. Sun-dried tomatoes are often sold in oil-packed jars, which adds extra flavor and moisture to your dish. But make sure they are good quality! If they are too dry they won't provide enough flavor or moisture to your pasta dish.
- Crank up the flavor. I like to add flavors that enhance the taste of sun-dried tomatoes - for instance, pepper flakes and fresh herbs like oregano and basil balance the rich cream sauce well.
👩🏽🍳 Troubleshooting FAQs
There are two types of sun dried tomatoes: dry-packed tomatoes (created by sun drying tomatoes, with a dense texture and strong flavor) and oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (where dried tomatoes are packed in oil to preserve a softer texture and more robust flavors). I recommend using oil-packed tomatoes in this recipe.
Any short pasta works well here. Penne, rotini, Gemelli, macaroni, and bowtie noodles are all great choices - more ridges the better!
Yes! You can add anything else you want in here - I have personally added vegan chorizo, spinach, and mushrooms to this dish and they've all tasted amazing, paired with the creamy, rich flavors of the pasta. Simply sauté or cook the vegetables first, until they're tender before adding them in with the rest of the ingredients.
🍴 Serving and storage suggestions
This creamy sun-dried tomato pasta can be easily made ahead of time and leftovers can be kept in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days.
Once you're ready to eat, reheat in a microwave or stove. Use the lowest heat setting possible, add a tiny splash of water to help make the sauce more fluid, and cover the dish with a lid to maintain its moisture. This will ensure that the pasta does not get super oily when reheated.
I love serving this pasta with a simple green salad or crusty bread on the side.
Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pasta
- 8 ounces penne rigate
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup lemon juice, fresh
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1⁄4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil, chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt, to taste, plus for salting pasta water
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente.
- Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta and set aside.
- Once the pasta is cooked, in the same pot sauteè the garlic and sun-dried tomatoes in the tomatoes oil until fragrant.
- Add the ricotta, Parmesan, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Mix together until well combined
- Add enough of the reserved pasta water to create a creamy sauce
- Add the pasta back to the pot and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until heated through
- Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Garnish with red pepper flakes, basil, and more Parmesan cheese as you desire and serve immediately!
- Add other vegetables: You can add onions, peppers, mushrooms and other veggies to this recipe. Make sure you cook them before adding.
- Storing: You could store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Reheat on a skillet or in microwave, with some extra water until it's creamy again. Serve immediately, garnishing with red pepper flakes