Orecchiette with Uncooked Tomato Sauce

It’s the height of tomato season here in New York City.

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One standby that I almost always seem to resort to when I just don’t feel like cooking is salsa di pomodoro, otherwise known as “uncooked tomato sauce”.

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There are different ways to make this sauce, but for any of them to really work, you need ingredients that are at their peak of freshness and flavor. This is especially true of sauces that have five or less ingredients, not counting salt and pepper. There’s less to hide behind if your tomatoes aren’t up to par.

You’ll be tempted to add a couple of things and maybe the kitchen sink, because if fresh, ripe tomatoes are great, then a handful of mixed olives must be even better, right? Resist the urge to do so.

This sauce is all about a marriage between tomato, onion and herbs. It’s a forkful of summer in every bite. Don’t wait too long though! Autumn’s come a-knocking, right at the kitchen door.

Orecchiette with uncooked tomato sauce

Orecchiette with uncooked tomato sauce

Orecchiette with Uncooked Tomato Sauce

This sauce works best with fresh pasta, although dried pasta will be fine in a pinch.

2 tablespoons olive oil + more for garnish
1 large onion, peeled, trimmed and finely chopped
sea salt, to taste
freshly milled black pepper, to taste
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
a generous handful of Italian parsley, chopped (should be about 1/4 cup)
1/2 lb. chopped tomatoes
1/2 lb. fresh pasta, such as orecchiette

Warm olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.

Add the onion and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir once or twice, then reduce the heat to low. Cover. Sweat the onions for about 20 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and limp. Cooking the onions in this way will bring out their flavor and help sweeten them. You can’t really rush this step either. When done, it should look like this:

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In the meantime, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the orecchiette. Cook until pasta is al dente, then drain, reserving about 1/4 cup pasta cooking water.

Raise the heat to medium, then add the garlic to the onions.

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Sauté for a few minutes, or until the garlic begins to turn color.

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Stir in the parsley. Sauté for a few minutes, or until it begins to wilt.

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Add the orecchiette to the pan. Mix well. Cook for 1 minute. If the pasta seems too dry, add a few tablespoons of pasta cooking water.

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Stir in the tomatoes. Toss.

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Taste for salt and pepper, then serve at once. Garnish each serving with a teaspoon of olive oil drizzled on top.

Time: About 45 minutes, including prep.

This recipe is sized for 2 people.

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