Lexie’s Perfect Summer Tomato Spaghetti


My friend Lexie is one of my only friends who can talk about food as obsessively and ceaselessly as I can. A look through our text history is almost entirely photos of food that we’ve made or eaten at restaurants, and links to the latest recipes we’ve tried or want to try. Lexie and her family live in San Francisco, two hours north of where we live, and whenever we meet up we basically cook nonstop (while also juggling our two toddlers) for the entire duration.

Lexie and I have made iterations of this simple tomato spaghetti before, but this past weekend, while my family was staying with hers during our fire evacuation, she really nailed this sauce. The POUNDS AND POUNDS of tomatoes from George’s garden didn’t hurt, either. We used a combination of Early Girl, heirloom, cherry, and I think even some Roma tomatoes – use absolutely any tomato that is ripe and perfect here. This spaghetti should really ONLY be made in the summer, when the tomatoes are perfectly ripened in the sun, not a hothouse!

I have a creamy tomato pasta in my cookbook that is widely loved – so I want to throw it out there that if you simply blended this pasta sauce until smooth with the Parmesan and 1/4 cup cooking water, you’d have a perfectly creamy, bright orange-y red tomato sauce. That is a DELICIOUS option!

We still have a month or two of tomato season in front of us, make the most of it!

5 from 1 vote

Lexie’s Perfect Summer Tomato Spaghetti

Servings 4 to 6 people


  • Cutting board
  • Chef’s knife
  • Large pot for cooking pasta
  • Large skillet / Dutch oven / braiser large enough to make the sauce, then add the pasta


  • 1 Stick unsalted butter 1 stick (8 tablespoons)
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 8 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • 4 pounds fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 tbps kosher salt 
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepperpanko breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound paghetti or bucatini
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish


  • Butter you can use half butter half olive oil, if ya want!
  • Tomatoes: truly, any kind of tomatoes works! Two 28-ounce cans of diced or whole peeled tomatoes is your alternate option for the winter
  • Garlic: you gotta have fresh garlic here! You can add a shallot if you have it, for more flavor
  • Thyme: ok to omit. You can throw a bay leaf in there if you have ‘em in the pantry.
  • Spaghetti/bucatini: I like a long noodle for this, but any kind works. Orecchiette, rotini, etc
  • Parmesan: Parm is definitely best, but pecorino Romano will also work.


  • Melt 8 tablespoons butter in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 minced shallot and 8 minced garlic cloves and cook until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Don't let them brown, if they start to, turn the heat down.
  • Stir in 4 pounds roughly chopped fresh tomatoes, 2 thyme sprigs, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and cook, uncovered, over medium or medium-high heat. You want a pretty nice boil, but you don't want to splatter your entire kitchen with tomatoes, so keep the heat in that sweet spot. Stir often and keep cooking until the majority of the liquid has evaporated, 45 minutes to an hour. It will look VERY liquidy for a long time, don’t worry, it will thicken as you continue to cook it!
  • When the sauce is almost ready, cook 1 pound spaghetti in very salty water until al dente – aka, almost tender but not quite. Use tongs to transfer the spaghetti directly to the spaghetti sauce so that about 1/4 cup or so of pasta water gets incorporated into the sauce. Turn off the heat for a few minutes, then stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. If you don't take the pasta off the heat first, the Parmesan will clump up instead of melting into the sauce. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed.
  • Divide between 4 to 6 bowls and garnish with more Parmesan and black pepper. If you love basil, throw some basil on there, but sometimes I like a tomato pasta to just be all about the tomato!


  • Tons of tomatoes in your garden? Make this sauce, let it cool completely, and freeze it in a large gallon ziploc bag (laying it flat like a piece of paper to freeze it).
My photo assistant (Lexie’s godson!) hard at work.

My photo assistant (Lexie’s godson!) hard at work.

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  1. 5 stars
    I doubled the recipe with great success. My entire family loved it which almost never happens. I’m going to make a double batch of this sauce before the summer is over so I can freeze it for the winter months. Now my go to tomato sauce for summer for sure!

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