Summer’s best and simplest: Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce

To me, this raw tomato-basil pasta dish is one of my favourite summer dishes – maybe the absolute favourite. It’s one that I have been making for decades.

It’s also one that brings back memories of my late father. When my daughters were young and I would work late seeing clients for nutrition counselling at my office, my parents would babysit. My father would come to my home and pick my daughters up after school or summer camp. Sometimes he would come in and wait in my kitchen.

One day, he asked me about the incredible aroma in my kitchen and so I told him that I would make this sauce in the morning, before work, and let it marinate through the day. I suggested to him that the next time he came to my home that he taste the sauce.

My parents were Holocaust survivors who grew up in Poland. Basil was definitely not on the menu. But after that, my father became obsessed with basil. He did, though, have a green thumb and growing produce came naturally to him. I remember going to a restaurant with him and I could see him scooping out tomato seeds and putting them into a paper napkin. When I asked him what he was doing, he told me that he loved the taste of those tomatoes and that he just had to grow that particular variety.

I got my love for my garden from my father.

So it was after tasting this sauce that he started growing basil- lots of it! He once lamented to me that my mother had told him that he was growing too much basil. He then told me that my mother didn’t understand. “How can you have too much basil?” he asked. My mother-in-law joked that she was sure that my father had Italian ancestry.

After my parents retired, they started to go to Florida for the winter and the first thing my father did, before unpacking, was to plant basil seeds in a container on the balcony. When I visited them, as I awoke in the morning, I could smell tomatoes marinating with basil which he had every day for lunch.

The beauty of this sauce is that it can be made ahead and left to marinate.

But it definitely needs summer tomatoes to make the simple dish so delicious. I use different kinds depending on what’s on hand- heirloom, plum or plain beefsteak tomatoes (no summer tomatoes are not plain!)

Here’s a guide to start you off but use more tomatoes and basil, if you like. Cut the recipe in half or double it, depending on how many servings you want to make.

But keep in mind, you don’t want leftovers as you don’t want to refrigerate the mixture. And for that matter, don’t use any tomatoes that have been previously refrigerated.

I never used to drain the tomatoes but I have started doing it over the past few years as the sauce can be watery. But save the tomato water for another use – or just drink it!

I also never seed my tomatoes for this dish – I try not to whenever possible as the gel around the seeds offers heart health benefits.

As for pasta, don’t include it with the likes of white bread and other refined carbs. Properly cooked pasta – cooked al dente meaning to the tooth, has a low glycemic index.

I may add some diced fresh mozzarella to the dish before serving.

Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce

Makes 3-4 servings

2 pounds tomatoes – about 5 medium, diced
1/2 – 1 tsp salt
1/3 cup basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 – 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 smashed garlic cloves (optional)
Freshly ground pepper
12 ounces dried spaghetti, linguini or fettuccini

Place the diced tomatoes in a strainer over a large bowl. Toss the tomatoes with salt and allow to sit for about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the tomato water from the bowl and add the diced tomatoes to the bowl.

Add the basil, extra virgin olive oil, garlic cloves, if using, and freshly ground pepper. Allow to marinate at least 30 minutes (Longer is better!)

Cook the pasta, according to package directions, until al dente. Drain well and before tossing with tomato mixture, remove garlic cloves, if using. Adjust seasonings.

Serve and enjoy!

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Categories: Recipes

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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4 Comments on “Summer’s best and simplest: Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce”

  1. Jackie Howard
    September 1, 2022 at 8:55 am #

    A lovely story, Rosie. Thank you.

    • September 1, 2022 at 12:25 pm #

      It makes me happy to have these memories and I sometimes wonder if others like my sharing them. Thank you so much for letting me know!

  2. Roslyn
    September 2, 2022 at 5:14 pm #

    This looks great thanks. What if there are leftovers? Is refrigeration strictly prohibited? I would like to make a casserole (eggs, cheese etc)the next day. TIA
    PS beautiful story

    • September 5, 2022 at 3:55 pm #

      While the leftovers would certainly taste great, their flavour would not be as spectacular as those in the unrefrigerated marinated tomatoes. Enjoy!

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