• Letitia Clark

Pasta with Salsa Cruda

This recipe appeared on MOB a few weeks back, so I'm pasting it here too as it's worth spreading about. It's a very delicious and extremely simple thing to do with the last tomatoes. Link:

Part pasta, part salad and 100% quick, easy, light and delicious, this is the perfect thing for summer lunches and al fresco dining.

Everybody knows and loves the Caprese salad, that classic combination of three perfect Italian ingredients: mozzarella, tomato and basil. Named after Capri and loved the world over, this salad heralds the arrival of summer and the ripe tomatoes that accompany it. It also demonstrates true harmony: the acidity of the tomatoes and their sweetness balances the rich, lactic creaminess of mozzarella, and basil adds pepperiness and fragrance. It is the essence of summer, a quintessential Italian plateful and a celebration of the three colours of the Italian flag.

Here this classic combination is reincarnated as an unusual but ideal dish for the summer months. Though it is not exactly a pasta dish, neither it is completely a salad. It’s a happy hybrid - a pasta salad – but, fear not, it is nothing like those ones your mum made in the 90’s. Here there are no suspicious cubes of green pepper or puckered khaki-coloured peas, and, thankfully, not a sweetcorn kernel in sight.

Instead, this is a surprisingly light, deliciously simple, and totally satisfying plate of food perfect for summer, requiring as little time as possible spent in front of the oven, and only a very few ingredients. It’s extremely economical too, but as there are so few ingredients and it is such a simple assembly I recommend that a) the best possible versions of these ingredients are sourced and b) every detail of the recipe is scrupulously observed. As is always the way, exceptionally good simplicity means attention to detail. A good buffalo-milk mozzarella shouldn’t be too hard to source, and at this time of year, neither should good, firm-but-flavourful tomatoes (I use a mix of large and small). Find the best extra virgin olive oil that you can get your hands on, too. The rest is easy.

Serves 4

1kg Mixed Ripe Tomatoes

350g Fresh Mozzarella

A Handful of Basil

7 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Clove of Garlic

400g Pasta (Penne, Spaghetti or Rigatoni are all good)


Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Once just boiling, drop in the tomatoes and submerge them for 20 seconds or so. Lift them out and then peel away their skins. Cut them in half and squeeze out most of their seeds, then chop or tear them into small chunks.

Add the chunks to a bowl and season well with salt. Peel and halve the garlic clove and add it to the tomatoes with the olive oil. Stir well to combine and let the tomatoes release some of their juices.

Cook the pasta in the boiling salted water until al dente (as this is sort of a salad, it’s more important than ever to make sure the pasta has a good bite to it).

Drain the pasta well and tip it into the tomato mix. Stir well to coat the pasta.

Tear the mozzarella into small pieces with your hands and scatter over this pasta, do the same with the basil and serve.

Note: This dish is not eaten piping hot, so there is no need to rush as with a normal plate of pasta. It’s best eaten tepid, or at room temperature. Cooking the pasta a minute or so less than the instructions on the packet indicates usually achieves a good al dente.

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