A classic from Lazio all the way down to Naples, raw tomatoes make one of the simplest and tastiest sauces. My grandmother, who makes this pasta almost every other day when in Italy, calls it primavera (meaning ‘springtime’) — but it is a far cry from the Italian–American sauce of the same name. The American sauce is poorly named — it relies heavily on summer produce, but my grandmother’s is just as inaccurate. The tomatoes must be at their peak (mid to late summer produce), and are not so flavoursome earlier in the year.
At least 10 minutes but no more than an hour before you eat, chop the tomatoes (1–2cm) and mix with the oil and garlic, salt and pepper. Leave to macerate at room temperature. Put the pasta on to boil. Given that you can’t cook the sauce, it is a good idea to warm it gently in a bowl over the boiling water. Drain the pasta al dente and toss with the sauce and basil leaves. Some add Gaeta olives, pitted and chopped, but I think it is just fine without. I hold pecorino (on top) and chopped red onion (stirred through) in the same regard. Serve immediately.
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