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The bright acidity of tomatoes and lemon are soothed with cream cheese. Garlic and parsley bring a traditional earthiness, while the cherry tomatoes offer extra texture. Finished off with a healthy shaving of parmesan, this dish is sure to satisfy. 


  • 1½ lb ripe tomatoes, grated
  • 10-12 cherry or grape tomatoes, roughly chopped (optional. see notes)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste 
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped (about 6 TBS)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, microplaned or minced
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (see notes)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 tsp sugar (optional: see notes)
  • 2 tsp ground red pepper (optional)
  • 4 oz cream cheese, cut into chunks and brought to room temperature
  • 1 lb pasta (see notes)
  • 4 Tbsp parmesan, grated (optional

Grate unpeeled tomatoes into a bowl using a box grater. Add tomato paste, parsley, garlic, and onion. Add cherry or grape tomatoes, if using.

Add olive oil and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper. Add sugar and red pepper, if using. 

Stir to combine. Add cream cheese chunks on top of tomato sauce and let everything marinate for 20 minutes.

Boil pasta in well-salted water, cooking until al dente. DO NOT OVERCOOK PASTA.

Reserve ½ cup of pasta cooking liquid before draining. Drain pasta, immediately add to the tomato sauce

The cream cheese should melt easily with the heat of the cooked pasta. If not, add some of the reserved pasta cooking liquid, 1 Tbsp at a time until you get a creamy texture.

Top with freshly-grated parmesan and serve immediately.


  • If your tomatoes are not very ripe and/or lacking in flavor, add cherry or grape tomatoes to intensify the flavor.
  • For a more mild onion flavor, use shallots. Sweet onions can be used to brighten tomatoes that are under-ripe. Red and white onions will offer more tang and acidity.
  • If you don’t have fresh lemon juice, you can use a good vinegar or bottled lemon juice instead.
  • If your tomatoes are lacking in sweetness, use 1-2 tsp sugar to compensate
  • You can use any pasta shape you want, since each has its own character. To my taste, this sauce benefits greatly from a shape that will easily hold the sauce, e.g. farfalle, gemelli, or orecchiette.

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