With this recipe, the only thing you have to cook is the pasta. My cousin Edda makes it all summer long. This is the freshest, purest-tasting recipe I have found for a sauce of raw tomatoes and uncooked seasonings. You rub a bowl with garlic, dice up ripe tomatoes, leaving their skin and seeds intact, tear a few leaves of fresh herbs over the tomatoes, twirl in a thread of olive oil and finish with salt and pepper. Nothing could be easier, or taste better. In some country houses, you might find capers and oregano in the bowl, or hot pepper and crushed garlic, or mint or even celery leaves. Everything in this dish is about what the country cook has on hand.
Cook to Cook: Exceptionally good tomatoes and olive oil you want to eat with a spoon are the only requirements for this recipe. Try a variety of tomatoes if possible-the punchy little Sweet 100s or Sun Golds, mellow beefsteaks and maybe one or two sweet yellow or orange ones. Tear the basil with your hands, rather than chopping with a knife. You enjoy more of its fragrance this way.
I discovered a trick for making pasta with raw tomato sauces taste lustier. Slightly undercook the pasta. Drain it. Spoon the juices that raw sauces always throw off into the empty pasta pot. Set it over medium-low heat, add the pasta and toss until the juices are absorbed, then add the pasta to the sauce. Pasta and raw tomato sauce is served at room temperature, never chilled.
Wine Suggestion: A simple Tuscan red like Monte Antico or Santa Cristina's Chianti
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Adapted from The Italian Country Table: Home Cooking from Italy's Farmhouse Kitchens by Lynne Rossetto Kasper (Scribner, 1999). Copyright 1999 by Lynne Rossetto Kasper.
Lynne Rossetto Kasper has won numerous awards as host of The Splendid Table, including two James Beard Foundation Awards (1998, 2008) for Best National Radio Show on Food, five Clarion Awards (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014) from Women in Communication, and a Gracie Allen Award in 2000 for Best Syndicated Talk Show.