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Uncooked Tomato Sauce

Salsa di Pomodori Crudi

Makes 2 Cups

On a recent trip to Italy, I had dinner at Benvenuto, a restaurant in Florence that the locals would rather tourists not know about. Before the restaurant opens regular customers line up in front of the place. Finally the owner unlocks the door and everyone files in, first to greet Cesare, the talking myna bird who bids each a Buon Giorno, and then to stake out a spot at long communal tables, where friends and strangers break bread together.

The menu is typical Tuscan fare, but one of the best dishes is a simple plate of spaghetti topped with an uncooked tomato sauce and a knob of butter. This is the perfect quick-and-easy sauce to make when tomatoes, basil, and parsley are in season. The sauce can be prepared two days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

Ingredients

1/2 cup Filippo Berio extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled

7 large basil leaves, stemmed

1/4 cup tightly packed parsley leaves, stemmed

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 pound (about 3 or 4) large meaty plum tomatoes

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

Directions

Pour the olive oil into a glass bowl and set aside. On a cutting board, place the garlic, basil, and parsley in a mound, mince the ingredients together with a knife, and add to the olive oil.

Core and cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds. Dice the tomatoes and add them with the salt and pepper to the olive oil. Blend the sauce well with a spoon, cover the dish with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for several hours for use the same day.

To serve, divide cooked spaghetti among individual serving bowls, then divide the sauce among the dishes, placing it on top of the spaghetti in the center. Add a tablespoon of butter to each bowl, and serve.

This recipe is from NELLA CUCINA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company Inc., in 1993.

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