When summer tomatoes are at their peak, and super ripe and juicy, sometimes all that’s needed is a generous sprinkle of good-quality salt. But magic happens when you chop four ripe tomatoes, add the required salt, chopped garlic, basil, olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and red chile flakes. And then let all of these ingredients marinate for four hours.
Juicy Tomatoes Are The Key
As soon as you stir in freshly cooked and hot pasta and add a generous dose of cheesy Parmesan, this spectacular and simple summer garden pasta will make you wish it was the beginning of June and not the end of August.
Thanks to Ina Garten for the recipe that I adapted after I made this dish last summer (pictured below). The original recipe calls for cherry tomatoes, which aren’t always the juiciest–or the most flavorful. But I always try the recipe first and then make adjustments as needed. This summer, I used big and juicy beefsteak tomatoes and now it’s good enough to share with you.
Let Simple Ingredients Shine
This five-ingredient (tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil and Parm), pasta sauce requires no-cooking and allows the fresh ingredients to shine. The trick is to use the best tomatoes you can find. In a big bowl, you’ll love how the salt slowly extracts the juice from the chopped tomatoes as they are left at room temperature for four hours.
During this time, the tomatoes melt with garlic and basil, and everything permeates the fruity olive oil. The freshly ground black pepper and red chile flakes add a thin veil of heat. As you wait for the four hours to pass, the pungent and beautiful aroma of Italy draws you back into the kitchen and tells everyone in the house a savory summer supper awaits.
Top with Parmesan and More Basil
When you are ready, add the hot pasta into the big bowl where the tomato concoction has become saucy and almost like a confit. The hot pasta soaks up the saucy olive oil and tomatoes. The Parmesan melts into the dish as you generously grate it over the top of the bowl. Gently toss everything together and the smell will remind you how good this is going to be. (Note: if you are a crusty bread lover and can eat gluten, be sure and get a baguette because the sauce that’s left in your pasta bowl will beg for sopping it up. Or drinking it. Your choice. But don’t let it go to waste.)
As we near Labor Day, it may be prudent to stock up on our favorite tomatoes so we can make this easy summer garden pasta dish a few more times before tomato season ends.
Summer Garden Pasta
In Garten knows food and this supremely simple pasta dish is ideal for hot summer nights when tomatoes and basil are at their peak. This no-cook tomato sauce with garlic, basil and olive oil meld together to become a sensational sauce to toss with pasta. Beware--if you love raw garlic, you're fine. If you don't love raw garlic, consider cutting back to three garlic cloves instead of six.
For the No-Cook Tomato Sauce
- 4 large beefsteak or homegrown tomatoes chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 6 garlic cloves chopped
- 20 leaves basil chiffonaded, reserve some for garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese grated, divided
- Maldon salt for serving
- Pasta I use gluten-free; angel hair would be lovely
In a big bowl, add the chopped tomatoes and any juice on the cutting board and then sprinkle with salt.
Chop the garlic and basil and add to the tomatoes.
Add the black pepper and red chile flakes.
Pour the olive oil over and stir well to combine.
Cover with plastic wrap, kitchen towel or reusable cover and set on the counter for four hours.
When ready, add water to a pot and bring water to boil. Add salt to the water.
When the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to the directions.
Drain quickly and add pasta to the big bowl of tomato-garlic confit.
Add 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and toss to combine. Plate the pasta and divide remaining Parm on each serving, top with fresh chopped basil, a sprinkle of Maldon salt and enjoy.
Refrigerate any leftovers.