when tomato sauce tastes best raw

My body has been bruised by summer: two wasp stings, many more mosquito bites, a summer cold, red shoulders and blotches of pink on those bits of skin that the sunscreen missed. But summer bruises are bruises that I don't mind. The berries, juicy tomatoes, cold bottles of white wine, and even colder lakes more than make up for any itches and scratches.

When it is 34 degrees Celsius (like today), I can understand why some relegate their ovens to the task of storage between the months of June and September. Although in these temperatures I too live mostly off of salads, berries, and cheese, I don't abandon my oven and stove completely. I need both in order to roast plums, boil eggs, potatoes and green beans for salad nicoise, bake tarts, and cook pasta.

This recipe is somewhat of a compromise. And brilliant. Tomatoes obviously shine in summer and when they are as good as they are right now, they don't any heat. But pasta still does. In Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, he admits that he can no longer recall the saint who taught him to make this dish "but if you have good fresh tomatoes and good basil, there is no higher use for them than this dish (446)." 

I couldn't agree more.

This is summer cooking at its best: simple and satisfying. It requires almost no effort, but tastes amazing. Raw tomato sauce has had a guaranteed spot on my summer's greatest hits list for several summers now. I've made it with all sorts of pasta and, although long pasta seems to get along best with the sauce, any pasta will do. The buffalo mozzarella is optional, but a very good option.

Linguine con Salsa Cruda (Linguine with Raw Tomato Sauce)

adapted from Mark Bittman's 'How to Cook Everything Vegetarian' 

serves 2

1 cup cored and roughly chopped ripe tomatoes (about 4 medium tomatoes)
1 clove garlic, lightly smashed
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt 
black pepper
half a pound (about 250 grams) linguine, or other pasta
1 ball buffalo mozzarella

In a broad bowl, put the tomatoes, smashed clove of garlic, half the basil and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then use a fork to mash everything together. Leave for at least half an hour at room temperature for the flavors to mellow. 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and generously salt it. Cook the pasta in the boiling water, following the package instructions, until al dente. Just before straining the pasta, spoon out a tbsp of the cooking water to add to the raw tomato sauce.

Remove the garlic from the sauce and add the buffalo mozzarella, torn into small chunks. Toss the pasta with the sauce and top with the remaining basil.  


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