Linguine with Raw Tomato Sauce

Linguine con Salsa Cruda

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: About 30 minutes

Sadly, I can’t remember the saint who taught me how to make this; but if you have good fresh tomatoes and good basil, there is no higher use for them than this dish. And it’s a very fast and easy 30 minutes. Without the Parmesan, it’s vegan.

A couple of guidelines: You can use good-quality canned plum tomatoes, as long as you drain them thoroughly first; it won’t be the same, but it won’t be bad (do not, however, use dried basil, here or anywhere else). And don’t smash the garlic too roughly or you’ll have trouble removing it before serving.

You can also use this unbeatable sauce for fried foods (or chips, for that matter), on top of soft polenta, or anywhere you’d use raw salsa or relish.

Salt

2 cups cored and roughly chopped ripe tomato

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, lightly smashed

1/4 to 1/2 cup roughly minced fresh basil leaves

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound linguine or other long pasta

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.

Put the tomato, oil, garlic, and half the basil in a broad-bottomed bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mash together well, using a fork or potato masher, but do not pure. (You can make the sauce an hour or two before you’re ready to eat and let it rest at room temperature.)

Cook the pasta in the boiling water until tender but not mushy. Ladle some of the cooking water into the sauce to thin it out a bit and warm it up. Remove the garlic. Toss the pasta with the sauce and top with the remaining basil; pass the grated Parmesan at the table.