Shells with Creamy Tomato Sauce

By Chanel Dror
pasta shells with tomato sauce recipe

Recipe from Just Married by Caroline Chambers with permission by Chronicle Books, 2018.

“Only four ingredients in this creamy tomato sauce are ones you might not regularly keep on hand, and it requires only about five minutes of active cooking time. The olive oil and pasta water emulsifies with the tomatoes, making the sauce smooth and luscious. I love using pasta shells because they pick up so much sauce in their nooks and crannies, but use whatever pasta you have on hand.” — Caroline Chambers

Shells with Creamy Tomato Sauce

Serves 2

Shells with Creamy Tomato Sauce

By Camille Styles

Section Title


¼ cup [60 ml] extra-virgin olive oil
1 pt (12 oz [340 g]) cherry tomatoes
¼ tsp kosher salt
8 oz [230 g] medium or small pasta shells
¼ cup [8 g] grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnishing
Pinch of red pepper flakes
½ cup [20 g] chiffonade fresh basil leaves


In a medium skillet over low heat, combine the olive oil, tomatoes, and salt. Simmer for 25 minutes, or until all tomatoes burst and begin to break down.

In a large pot over high heat, boil several quarts of heavily salted water. Time the cooking of your pasta so it finishes cooking around the time your pasta sauce is done. Cook the pasta until al dente; it should still have some chew when you test a piece. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup [60 ml] of the pasta water.

Transfer the tomatoes and the reserved pasta water to a blender and blend on high speed for 15 seconds, or until smooth. Combine the pasta and tomato sauce in the cooking pot and place it over low heat. Gently stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted. Divide the pasta between two bowls and sprinkle with red pepper flakes and the basil.

Do your thing:
Blend ¼ cup [35 g] of roasted red peppers with the tomatoes for a more robust sauce. Add some Burrata cheese for a heartier meal.

Cooking School:
Adding the starchy leftover water from cooking pasta to your pasta sauce helps it thicken and stick to your pasta. If you have an immersion blender, blend the sauce right in the pot for easier cleanup.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *