Saturday, July 16, 2005

Spaghetti Salad: Recipe


I think you can argue that it isn't really Summer until tomatoes are juice-down-your-chin ripe. When a tomato is at it's sweet peak, I'm not alone in believing it should be eaten raw. In countries where tomatoes are grown, there are lots of great recipes for using fresh, uncooked tomatoes--Italians make Insalata Caprese, Spaniards make Gazpacho, Americans make tomato sandwiches, etc.

Around twenty years ago I remember a potluck dinner where someone who was a restauranteur brought a bowl of pasta tossed with a fresh uncooked tomato sauce. It was a revelation to me that something so basic could be so delicious. It wasn't until I lived in Italy that I learned such simple fresh ingredients are really what Italian cuisine is all about.

In Italy a sauce of uncooked tomatoes is called "salsa cruda", but in English that sounds just horrid. So I'm taking the liberty of calling this "Spaghetti Salad" instead. It makes a great weeknight dinner or a terrific potluck dish because you serve it at room temperature. You can add more herbs like parsley to this, or red pepper flakes, olives, capers, anything that appeals to you. I like it basic because when tomatoes are at their best, anything else is just a distraction.

Note: Only make this recipe with super delicious ripe juicy tomatoes.

Spaghetti Salad
serves 2-4 depending if this is a first or main course

Ingredients

1/2 lb spaghetti or angel hair pasta
4 tomatoes, fresh, ripe, about 2 cups finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, smashed
4 large leaves fresh basil, roughly torn
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (a fruity or peppery one is good)
Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

Trim the stem off the tomatoes and chop finely. Do not drain the tomatoes! Save the juice, it will get absorbed by the pasta. Smash a large clove of garlic and place it in your serving bowl along with the olive oil, basil and tomatoes. Cook the pasta in salted water just until al dente. Toss the drained pasta with the sauce and let it sit and absorb the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Enjoy!