Pasta with Raw Tomatoes

Tagliatelle al Pomodoro Crudo

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Yes, I’m back! I hadn’t intended to be away nearly so long but there you have it. I realize that I posted the Greta introduction recently but this post needed to be published ASAP. In this part of the world, the tomato plants have reached peak production. There’s no better time to prepare  Insalata Caprese,  Panzanella Salad, and Pappa al Pomodoro, as well as today’s pasta, than right now.

Surprisingly, this dish wasn’t served when I was a boy. With Grandpa’s garden easily meeting the tomato needs of both families, it’s a wonder that no one ever used a few of them to make this pasta. I can only say that I’m glad that I came upon the recipe a few years ago and have enjoyed it every August since.

If you google Pasta al Pomodoro Crudo, you’ll find there are many recipes for the dish. In its purest form, all that’s required to prepare the sauce are ripe tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil, and salt & pepper, with pasta being the only cooked ingredient. Whether to use grated cheese when served is left up to the cook’s preferences. Some have added capers to the mix, and I myself have added anchovies. There are recipes that include onions that have been rinsed or lightly sautéed before being added to the pasta. Still more will lightly cook the tomatoes before adding the pasta. Of all the versions I’ve tried, the latter using slightly cooked tomatoes is the one I’ve avoided. For me, the taste of fresh tomatoes is what makes this dish so special. Cooking, no matter how slight, would ruin this for me. Nothing compares with the aroma of fresh tomatoes combined with basil and olive oil. When brought to the table, it’s practically intoxicating. Give it a try and I bet you’ll agree. Still not convinced? OK. What do you intend to do with all of those tomatoes you’ve been picking?

This is such a simple recipe. Just be sure to use ripe tomatoes with fresh basil and garlic. This is not the time for canned/jarred/dried ingredients. Once assembled, let the sauce rest for about an hour before cooking the pasta. (See Notes.) Lastly, the ingredient amounts listed below are merely guidelines. you may wish to have more/less tomatoes in your pasta. The same is true for the basil.

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Pasta with Raw Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 to 3 very ripe, medium-size tomatoes, seeded and chopped (see Notes)
  • hand-torn basil leaves, more for garnish.
  • 2 anchovies, minced + more, whole, for garnish (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 lb (150 g) cooked tagliatelle (see Notes)
  • grated Pecorino Romano cheese (optional)

Directions

  1. Seed and chop the tomatoes.
  2.  In a large bowl, place the tomatoes, basil, garlic, anchovies (if using), and olive oil. Gently mix to combine. Cover and set aside.
  3. After about an hour, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and, following package directions, cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving about a cup of the pasta water.
  4. Add the hot pasta to the raw tomato sauce and gently stir. If overly dry, add some of the reserved pasta water to moisten. (See Notes)
  5. Move to a serving platter and garnish with more torn basil and, if using, grated cheese and whole anchovies.

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Notes

You can use any tomatoes for this recipe just so long as they are ripe. I seed “regular” tomatoes but only halve cherry tomatoes when using.

Use any type of pasta you prefer. I like tagliatelle but either penne or farfalle, for example, will work just as well.

My use of anchovies started last year when I had some leftover from preparing pizza the night before. I’ve included the little fishies ever since. No need to use them if you don’t like them.

I’ve never let the sauce sit for hours or overnight because I fear the tomatoes would lose too much of their structure. The firmer the tomato the better, in my book.

If the final dish is too dry, you can also add a drizzle of olive oil with(out) the pasta water to moisten  it.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

I’m working on it …

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

We knew summer was in full-swing when platters of Mom’s tomato antipasti appeared on the dinner table. Another easy dish to prepare, these are a wonderful way to serve ripe tomatoes without touching the stove — a blessing on many August days.  You can learn how to prepare Mom’s dish HERE.

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63 thoughts on “Pasta with Raw Tomatoes

  1. A raw tomato recipe for your multitude of eager readers in Australia during the last week of ‘winter’ ? Well, actually, there has not been a single night last week our TV supermarket ads have omitted to highlight the plethora of succulent ‘truss tomatoes’ now on the market! , , , Uhuh, like tagliatelle for this and you do know I’ll reach for the nearest anchovy any time . . . and, Milord, DO work on that next post, pretty please !

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, I did work on that post, just never got around to publishing it. Not to worry. I hope to get it out tonight — if I can get this blog caught up beforehand. If only Greta could type …

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      • *smile’ To paraphrase ‘September Song’ : ‘It is a long, long time from August to October . . . ‘ kind Sir, but am delighted to meet you back here and can’t wait to see a ‘Bartolini’ post in my inbox ! . . . . love your Instagram drawcards, but . . .

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely way to use up tomatoes, John. Just a couple of questions. How ripe is ripe? Do you mean soft? Finally someone who can answer my question on (de)seeding. I like tomatoes with the seeds in them, but would really like to know why recipes want to get rid of the seeds.

    Liked by 2 people

    • So sorry, Mary, for so long a delay in replying. As for the tomatoes, in this recipe, there’s no such thing as too ripe. I prefer a little texture, so, I use tomatoes that are quite ripe but not overly so. To seed or not to seed? Unless a person has diverticulitis, I feel that removing seeds is done for cosmetic purposes more than anything else, at least that’s why I do. The fact is, I don’t recall Mom or Zia ever removing them.

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    • This always surprises me, Stefan. The Netherlands has such rich farmland. It’s a shame that good tomatoes aren’t readily available. But I do know what you mean. Soon, I’ll stop buying fresh tomatoes until next year. In the off-season, those that are shipped hundreds of miles just aren’t at all appetizing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi John, remember that Chicago is roughly at the same latitude as Rome, whereas Amsterdam is as northern as Saskatoon in Canada. So it’s mostly a matter of sun and (summer) temperature. Having said that, our tomatoes are grown in greenhouses on artificial soil and the varieties are selected for looking unblemished and long shelf life. Not for flavor. For the latter qualities they’re even exported to Italy. Give me an ugly Italian tomato any time…

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  3. Delicious! Such a beautiful way of celebrating summer tomatoes John. Not too long now ’til our planting season begins… tomatoes are always a bit hit and miss with me and my thumb that is sadly not any shade of green, but will keep trying all the same! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Margot. I must admit that my tomato plants don’t always cooperate either. Ofttimes in the summer, I’ll buy a few heirloom tomatoes when I go to the farmers market. I was more lucky this year than most and didn’t need to buy many at all. I hppe you’ll be able to say the same in a few months.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I absolutely adore simple flavours and even better is fresh tomatoes with pasta – LOVE this recipe John. Think I shall make it for dindins this evening. I am sure my Pete will enjoy it too.
    Have a beautiful and happy day.
    Love and hugs from Nairobi. xo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much, Mandy. I hope you did prepare and enjoy this recipe. It is a go-to dinner for me once my tomatoes start ripening. Wishing you all the best in Nairobi! XOX

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    • It truly is a great dish, Celi. Sure, you can add more ingredients but, for me, less is best. I just love the taste of the fresh tomatoes with basil and I so hate that tomato season is all but passed. Ugh!

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  5. I love peak tomato season! We’re not growing any this year (we’ve given up battling the squirrels) but there are plenty of good local tomatoes to be found. It IS odd how rare this sort of sauce was when we were younger — tomato in pasta always meant a cooked sauce. This is a terrific way to enjoy totally ripe tomatoes. And our basil — which doesn’t interest the squirrels or rabbits at all, thank goodness — has just exploded this year — they’re almost like small shrubs. So we have plenty of that on hand to add to this dish. 🙂 Good stuff — thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean, John, about the squirrels. Now that tomato season is just about over, I can say it: my nemesis is no more. Have not seen that blasted squirrel all season! As a result, I’ve enjoyed a bumper crop of tomatoes. Not so lucky with the basil, however. That’s not so bad actually. I can get a huge bouquet for a few dollars at the farmers market. That’s suits me just fine and frees up a planter for some other herb. 🙂

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  6. So simple, but your recipe is helpful. I have tomatoes and basil in my garden, and I’ve been making a version of this, but I slightly cooked the tomatoes and the basil with the garlic. Tasty, but it was a disappointment because the basil all but disappeared. So I see here that you add the fresh, unheated ingredients to the hot pasta. I can’t wait to taste the difference, and it will look nicer, too. I was late starting my tomatoes from seed, so they are just now coming into abundance and I’m raring to go!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Late to my own party …
      I’ve not tried slightly cooking the tomatoes but I so love the freshness of them in this dish. And yes, the fresh basil really shines here and its aroma fills the air. I hope you were able to try this, Debra. As for me, I’m hoping there are enough cherry tomatoes on that overgrown vine for 1 last dish of pasta. It takes so little to make me happy. 🙂

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  7. I’m so glad you’re back, John! This is, indeed, a delicious treat every summer… and I love that you used anchovies in it! They had so much flavor, and no one ever really knows they’re there…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, David. I didn’t intend to leave again but a new dog, especially this one, can really occupy one’s time. Things are getting back on track now and I hope to be around more often. Yes, it was a lucky day the night I added those leftover anchovies to the tomatoes. I haven’t prepared it any other way since.

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  8. Just in time recipe!!! The farmers market run was a big one and we have just a FEW heirloom tomatoes. Don’t you just love the smell of fresh ripe tomatoes and basil in the summer! Fresh pasta and fresh ingredients make for one memorable dish. So happy to see you back. We will always be here so take care of yourself dear friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the warm welcome, Bobbi. Greta’s adjustment period has been a bit more problematic than I had anticipated. She’s coming along, however, and will make a fine companion. Yes, this dish’s aroma is what I remember most. You just cannot beat i!
      I hope you’ll enjoy fall and find time to get up north for the color change. Michigan is such a beautiful state, isn’t it? Take care!.

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  9. The tomatoes finally smell like tomatoes in the stores (sadly, my raised garden died due to too much sun and rain, and then there were the damn raccoons). This dish looks absolutely perfect, it screams summer! I love anchovies but someone else in the house does not, so I’d garnish only my own plate as there is no need to waste it. It’s nice to have you back. XOXO

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Eva. I took another sabbatical after this was posted — thank you, Greta — but I’m regaining control, or so I hope. Too bad about your tomatoes. Although mine finished well, they certainly had a tough start. It rained for 10 days straight in June and that delayed them and just about did in my roses. Some of the latter never really recovered. Oh, well. Like any good Cubs fan will tell you, “Wait until next year!” 🙂

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    • Thanks, Linda. For me, this is Italian cuisine at its best. Simple, seasonal, and delicious. I’m going to hate to say good-bye to it soon. Up here, good tomatoes are impossible to find in the off-season. You Floridians, on the other hand … 🙂

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  10. I made another version of this once my tomatoes starting ripening and we just love this dish. Have never added anchovies but I know for a fact that my husband would love a couple thrown into his bowl. So simple and so good John!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, simple and good, MJ. It took me years to realize that less is often best when it comes to good food. This dish is a prime example. I sure am going to miss it once the season end — and that’s a lot sooner than I care to admit.

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    • Funny you mention the short paste, Frank. Sometimes I’ll make this but coat the pasta with pesto Genovese first. (Tastes similar to pesto Trapanese). When I do, I’m prone to use a short pasta, too. 🙂

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    • Yes, Mimi, this is the perfect dish for tomato season. You’re right. Letting it set a spell allows the flavors to meld, as well as to give the salt time to draw some of the liquid out of the tomatoes. It helps, too, if you add anchovies like I do.

      Liked by 1 person

    • We are of one mind and this is a recipe you’re sure to love, Sylvia. It’s one of the reasons I plant tomatoes every year — and a very good reason, at that. Too bad I can’t plant anchovies. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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