We’re in the middle of a summer heat wave at the moment where I need to eat, but the thought of turning on the stove in the kitchen and generating even more heat is utterly unappealing. It’s also the kind of weather where the idea of a dish featuring lots 0f cheese, cream, butter or bacon lose is met with a “uh, no thanks” (and I love cream and cheese and butter and bacon).
A refreshing solution is this no-cook tomato sauce: a bit of tangy lemon, the flavor of ripe tomatos, a clove of garlic for a little punch and balance, fragrant basil leaves, a bit of heat from back pepper and – secret ingredient – the smooth saltiness of some sun-dried tomato in oil.
This week, I ate this dish three days in a row. It’s that simple, and that good. and it keeps the kitchen cool, too. (Fine, you still need to cook the pasta, but that’s the only catch.)
Summer Tomato Sauce (for two)
- 2 fresh tomatoes, medium size
- 4 halves of sundried tomato in oil, drained
- 20-30 leaves of freshly plucked basil (balcony, windowsill, urban green bombing)
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- freshly ground black pepper, a bit of salt
- Make a small criss-cross cut at the bottom of the tomatoes, place them in a high kitchen bowl and pour boiling water over them (you can alternatively do this in the water you use to boil the pasta – bring to a boil andbefore adding the pasta and oil and salt, drop in the tomatoes for a minute). After a minute or two, pour away the water (you can use it to boil your pasta with a hint of tomato flavor) and remove the – now cracked – skin of the tomatoes. Cut them in halves, emove the green/yellowish stem part and place them back in the bowl.
- Add the clove of garlic, pressed through a garlic press (if you don’t ave one, use the flat side of a knife on the countertop).
- Add the drained tomatoes in oil (don’t be tempted to add more, it’ll make the sauce verxy salty (contraproductive in hot weather). Also, you can’T skip them, since they are the key ingredient in giving the sauce body and density, otherwise it is far too liquid.
- Add salt, pepper, basil leaves (the first time I made the sauce, I added the shredded basil leaves after blending (see photos), which doesn’t do quite the same for the taste of the sauce. The basil needs to be in there before the blending. Feel free to add more after the fact, though) and olive oil.
- Blend well with an immersion blender.
- Set aside for about fifteeen minutes before pouring over the pasta, to allow the flavors to blend.
- Cook pasta (unless you’ve done that on the side, in that case, you’ll have to skip the additionial flavor-blending) – I’d recommend spaghetti (not spaghettini) of the 11-12 minute cooking variety. Since the sauce is very light, I make 100g of pasta per person.
- Drain pasta, pour sauce over it, serve!