Spaghettini col Sugo di Erbe e Pomodoro Crudo

Thin Spaghetti with Herbs and Raw Tomato

A Popular, nostalgic image of Italian cooking is that of a portly, grandmotherly woman stirring a simmering sauce for hours. Fortunately, it is. only a fantasy. Of the thousands of pasta sauces, only a few take more than 15 to 20 minutes. This sauce for maccheroncini doesn’t take even 1 minute.

The secret of its sprightly, fragrant flavor is that the herbs and tomatoes of which it is composed are virtually raw. They never see the inside of a saucepan but go directly into the serving bowl where they are splashed with hot olive oil. It is in that brief second or two, while the heat is at flash point, that the fruity scent of the sizzling olive oil is fused to the fresh aromas of the five herbs and the tomato. The texture of the tomato is practically unaltered, staying as juicy and firm as when it was cut up. The forthright style of the sauce agrees well with the sturdiness of macaroni pasta, either in tubular shapes or in the solid ones, like spaghetti or spaghettini.

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Ingredients

  • pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, or 3 to 4 dried leaves, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 3 teaspoons fresh rosemary chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 1 pound spaghettini
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper in a grinder

Method

  1. Wash the tomatoes, split them in half, remove the seeds, and dice the halved tomatoes into ½-inch cubes.
  2. Put the diced tomatoes, the basil, sage, parsley, rosemary, and mint in the bowl where you’ll be tossing and serving the pasta.
  3. Drop the spaghettini into a pot of abundant boiling salted water.
  4. When the pasta is nearly done, put the olive oil in a small saucepan and turn on the heat to high. When the oil is smoking hot, pour it over the tomatoes and herbs in the serving bowl. It should be hot enough to sizzle as it hits the contents of the bowl. Add salt, a few grindings of pepper, and mix well.
  5. When the pasta is done—it should be barely tender but firm to the bite—drain it well and transfer it immediately to the bowl, tossing it thoroughly with all the ingredients. Serve promptly.

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