Quite possibly the best way to enjoy really good, ripe summer tomatoes—as well as making the most of spending as little time in front of a hot stove as possible—is this wonderful raw tomato sauce for pasta.
You can chop (my preference), but some like to blend the tomatoes for a smooth sauce. You can prepare it in minutes or well in advance and let it chill. I find that you can get the best out of the tomatoes if you let them sit out of the fridge for about 15 minutes with a good seasoning of salt—at room temperature, fresh tomatoes are at their tastiest and the time allows the salt to draw some of the juice out of the chopped tomatoes. If you have really good tomatoes, fresh basil, and good olive oil, you're already more than half way there. —Emiko
(1 kilo) ripe tomatoes
good pinch sea salt flakes
handful of fresh basil leaves
(350 grams) spaghetti
2 to 3 tablespoons
extra-virgin olive oil
Optional: finely chopped garlic, dry or fresh chile, 2 finely chopped spring onions
Score a cross on the bottoms of the tomatoes. Bring a large pot of water to boil (the one you will use for the pasta) and place the tomatoes in the pot to blanch for about 20 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and immediately place them in a bowl of ice water. Once cool enough to handle, the skins will peel off easily.
In the meantime, keep the water boiling and add salt (you should aim for 1 teaspoon for each litre/4 cups of water), then the pasta. Boil according to packet directions.
Chop the tomatoes into quarters and scrape out the seeds. Chop the rest of the flesh and either leave roughly chopped (my preference) or, if you prefer a smooth sauce, you can pulse in a food processor, smash with a mortar and pestle, or pass through a food mill (if adding garlic or any of the other optional flavors, include them with the tomatoes at this stage).
Place in a bowl with a good pinch of sea salt, torn basil leaves (don't chop them with a knife, rip them by hand), and the extra virgin olive oil add then stir to combine. Set aside until the pasta is ready.
Drain the al dente pasta and tip immediately into the bowl of tomatoes and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.