One of my absolute favourite ways to eat really ripe tomatoes is in a raw sauce with pasta. I spent some time in Milan and this was the first meal that my friend, who had been living there for almost a year by that time, made for me the day of my arrival. He mixed up a bowl of diced tomatoes with lots of good olive oil, salt, fresh basil and some onion and let it sit out on the counter all day. When it was time to eat, he cooked up some pasta, ripped up some fresh mozzarella and threw the drained, hot pasta into the bowl of juicy tomatoes, covered that with the cheese and tossed it for a couple of minutes. The hot pasta warms up the room temperature tomatoes a bit and causes the fresh cheese to start to soften and just start to melt. The two of us finished off the entire bowl and from that day on, when I eat this and close my eyes, I am back on my friend's terrace in Milan, sweating my face off with a crisp little glass of rose in hand and all is right in the world.
I found these beautiful, brown Kumato tomatoes and was going to just use them all for sandwiches but that would be a waste so I stole a couple of them to make this. Since I didn't have any fresh mozzarella, I used bocconcini pearls, which work almost as well but if you have some fresh, soft mozzarella, use that.
Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce and Bocconcini
amounts are approximate as this is more of a method than a recipe. Feel free to use more or less oil, basil or cheese. You can't mess this one up.
Ingredients:2 large tomatoes (I used brown Kumatos)
approx 225g1/4 cup chopped, fresh basil
3 tbls extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
few grinds black pepper
1 spring onion or scallion
1 clove garlic, grated on a rasp
Approx 300g spaghetti or spaghettini
Approx 100 g bocconcini (the pearls are perfect or chop it up)
fresh parmesan to finish
Directions:Dice (small dice) the tomatoes and mix them with the basil, olive oil, salt and pepper, scallion and garlic in a bowl and set aside for the rest of the day. If you can't let it sit for the afternoon, let it sit for at least a couple of hours so the flavours will really blend.
When it's time to eat, cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. Add the bocconcini to the tomato mixture. Throw in the hot, drained pasta and keep tossing for a minute or two to get the cheese gooey. Top with fresh parmesan.
When the pasta is done, remove it from the pot, drain it quickly and then toss the hot pasta with the tomato mixture. The heat from the pasta will warm the tomatoes up and cause the cheese to start to soften and melt just a bit. Plate the pasta, making sure you heap tomato and bocconcini on top, grate some fresh parmesan over the whole thing, taste and adjust for salt if needed and serve.