Spaghetti with Raw Tomatoes

With tomatoes in season, this spaghetti with a raw tomato sauce is the epitome of good and simple. Eat it al fresco—it’s like taking an Italian vacation.

An oval platter topped with spaghetti with raw tomatoes and a couple of spoons on the side.

Although the title implies that this is an actual recipe, it’s actually something much less—and, at the same time, much more. It’s a basic blueprint, a lesson in summer simplicity, that grants you autorizzazione to tweak it to make it your own. Love garlic? Sliver the cloves rather than leave them whole to ensure a more pronounced oomph. Don’t have basil? Maybe you don’t need it. The only requirement is that your rendition demands minimal effort. After all, it’s summer. And it goes without saying—in Italian or any language—that this ought to be made only with proper pomodoros, maybe even heirlooms. And preferably from your garden or local farmers market. None of this hothouse business.. Or you’ll be disappointed. Trust us. –Renee Schettler

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Spaghetti with Raw Tomatoes

An oval platter topped with spaghetti with raw tomatoes and a couple of spoons on the side.
With tomatoes in season, this spaghetti with a raw tomato sauce is the epitome of good and simple. Eat it al fresco—it’s like taking an Italian vacation.
Editors of Phaidon Press

Prep 20 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 50 mins
Entrees
Italian
4 servings
460 kcal
4.88 / 8 votes
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Ingredients 

  • 1 pound 2 ounces ripe vine tomatoes peeled*, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 10 leaves basil chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled
  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • Salt and pepper

Directions
 

  • Place the tomatoes in a large bowl, add the oil, basil, and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Toss gently, cover, and set aside in a cool place. Then forget about them for about 30 minutes or so to let the flavors mingle.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions, until it is tender but al dente, or firm to the bite. Drain the spaghetti.
  • Remove and discard the garlic from the raw tomato sauce. Add the pasta to the sauce, toss, and serve immediately.
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Notes

*What’s the easiest way to peel tomatoes?

There are a few ways to do this, depending on how you’re going to use those tomatoes. If your tomatoes are firm and unblemished, a sharp vegetable peeler will often do the trick. The other popular way to peel tomatoes is blanching, and while this recipe calls for raw tomatoes blanching will only take a minute in hot water. With a sharp knife, cut an X in the bottom of the tomatoes. Toss them into a pot of boiling water, for no more than a minute, remove with a slotted spoon and drop into a bowl of ice water. Once cool, the tomato skins should slip off easily and they’ll still be raw.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 460kcal (23%)Carbohydrates: 69g (23%)Protein: 12g (24%)Fat: 15g (23%)Saturated Fat: 2g (13%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gSodium: 12mg (1%)Potassium: 502mg (14%)Fiber: 4g (17%)Sugar: 6g (7%)Vitamin A: 1129IU (23%)Vitamin C: 18mg (22%)Calcium: 36mg (4%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

Recipe Testers' Reviews

This spaghetti with raw tomatoes is light, fresh, and simple to make. This is perfect on a hot summer day for a quick and easy dinner.

I used store-bought clusters of vine-ripened tomatoes for this dish, which gave a good, sweet tomato flavor. I also shaved a touch of Romano Cheese on top to lend it a little of that nutty flavor. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for heirloom tomatoes to make this again this summer. Make sure to use good-quality olive oil.

This is a great midweek meal, taking little time to prepare but delivering a light, satisfying dinner. I was concerned that the amount of tomato mixture was too little when compared to the pasta, but the sauce coats the pasta rather than drowns it, and the basil and garlic come through delicately against the sharp tomatoes.

While it’s true that the flavours are somewhat subtle, the proportions are just right in the end. I’d never have thought of using raw tomatoes in a sauce, but in this recipe it works perfectly.


Originally published August 23, 2010

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Comments

  1. I make this with sweet corn off the cob, sliced cukes, basil, garlic, and unpeeled tomatoes. It’s my favorite summer dish!

  2. 4 stars
    I added a bit of spice and if I were to make it again I’d want a different sauce (more than just olive oil)

  3. 5 stars
    I initially selected this recipe because I needed something quick and easy to prepare for a weekend dinner. I didn’t have much time to cook, nor did I have time to waste in a grocery store. This recipe is so simple to throw together and requires very little cooking. I could almost say that you’re not really cooking because you’re just throwing noodles in a pot of boiling water then draining them!

    I loved the flavor of the fresh tomatoes and basil. This was simple enough, and tasty enough, that I’d make this dish over and over again. Next time, I might add shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top, or maybe some fresh mozzarella as a mix-in.

    1. Thanks Reid! We’re also big fans of these easy pantry meals that come together in a flash. Especially now that we’re starting to see those beautiful fresh tomatoes at the markets. Love the suggestion of adding the cheese. Will definitely have to give that a try.

  4. 5 stars
    Simply the best. The unique flavor of summer home grown tomatoes and basil, the garlic and oil. Al dente spaghetti. A crisp cool white wine. Quick, easy delicious.

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