My favorite kind of tomato sauce is a raw one. Despite the supposed romance of long-simmered tomatoes cooked down over the course of hours with herbs, garlic, and spices, I usually lack time or energy for that. When it's summer and fresh tomatoes have all the flavor you could want, cooking them somehow seems criminal.
All the tomatoes need is a quick blanch to help peel off the skins, then a half-hour bath in fruity olive oil, garlic, and slivered basil (plus liberal amounts of salt). The longer you can marinate the better, but the flavors mingle well (and I start to get hungry) after thirty minutes. Afterwards, small chunks of fresh mozzarella go in—when the whole thing is tossed with hot pasta, the cheese turns gooey in the heat.
- 1 pound spaghetti or other long pasta
- 6-8 small tomatoes, or 3 large ones
- 1 clove garlic, chopped or pushes through a garlic press
- 1 tablespoon chopped basil
- Olive oil to cover
- 2-3 ounces fresh mozzarella
- Salt and pepper
Bring a small pot of water to boil and submerge the tomatoes for 30 seconds, then remove. Slit the skins with a knife; they should slip off easily. Halve the tomatoes and squeeze them gently to remove the pulp and seeds. Chop the tomato flesh.
In a large serving bowl, add the tomatoes, basil, garlic, and olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes, longer if possible.
Cook the pasta until al dente in salty water. Drain, and add to the tomato mixture along with the mozzarella, grated. Toss well, and serve immediately.