Pasta with Uncooked
Summer Tomato Sauce

Serves 3—4


One of the simple pleasures of summer is the speed with which bright, elegant meals can be put together. After you have been sated by the first of the tomato harvest, you can get on with doing a little more to summer's finest fruit than plucking it off the vine and eating it. There are endlesss variations to uncooked tomato sauces, and I offer here the basic formula for pasta for four, along with numerous variations. For the simplest and most casual of sauces, do not peel or seed the tomatoes.

  • 2 pounds medium to large ripe tomatoes (3—6 tomatoes, depending on size)
  • 2 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper in a mill
  • 12 ounces pasta (vermicelli, spaghettini, spaghetti)

Remove the stem end of the tomatoes and discard. with a sharp knife, chop the tomatoes coarsely and place them in a glass or stainless steel bowl. Crush the garlic cloves by placing them, one at a time, on your work surface and placing the side of your knife blade on it. Use your fist to firmly press the blade down, crushing the garlic in the process. After smashing the garlic, chop it finely and add it to the tomatoes. Remove the basil leaves from their stems, chop them coarsely, and toss with the tomatoes and garlic. Add the olive oil and toss again. Let the mixture rest in a cool spot, but not the refrigerator, for about 2 hours. Cook the pasta and drain it. Season the tomato sauce with salt and black pepper and add the pasta to the sauce. Toss the mixture and serve immediately.


  • Mint: Use 1/2 cup julienned mint leaves instead of the basil.
  • Feta Cheese: Add 3/4 cup feta cheese, cut into 1/4" cubes, to the sauce.
  • Spicy: Add 1 serrano or jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced, with the garlic, and use 1/2 cup cilantro leaves in place of the basil.
  • Red Onion: Add 1 small red onion, diced, to the sauce.
  • Anchovy: Mince 3 small anchovy filets and add them, with 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, to the sauce.
  • Pernod: Dice 1 medium fennel bulb and add it to the sauce, along with 1-2 tablespoons of Pernod.
  • Honey-Pepper: Add 2 tablespoons of honey mixed with 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to the tomato mixture. After tossing the pasta with the sauce, add plenty of fresh ground black pepper and toss again.
  • Olives: Reduce the amounts of tomatoes to 1 1/2 pounds. Add 1/2 cup each sliced pitted green olives and sliced pitted kalamata olives and use 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, and 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves instead of the bunch of basil.
  • Lasagne Noodles: Instead of thin strands of pasta, use lasagne noodles. Immediately after cooking them, drain and rinse the noodles and toss them with just enough olive oil to coat them. This will discourage their sticking to each other, as lasagne noodles will sometimes do.

Copyright 1996 by Michele Anna Jordan, author of The Good Cook's Book of Tomatoes. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.


The Good Cook's Online Guide to Tomatoes

Tomato Recipes


Check out Michele Anna Jordan's latest book: The World Is a Kitchen: Cooking Your Way Through Culture

This Archived Page created between 1994 and 2001. Modified August 2007

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