Pasta With Uncooked Tomatoes, Olives, Capers, and Cheese Sauce
This is one of my favorite summer pastas. I came up with this elaborate “bruschetta” sauce in the mid-‘90s, when my husband started his tomato-growing habit. There’s something about the combination of room-temperature “sauce” added to hot pasta that makes it light and delicious. Once you get it down, you’ll start improvising with whatever herbs or cheese you have on hand. I’ve even cut back the cheese and added a drained can of tuna to the “sauce.” But if you make it with anything less than ripe, seasonal tomatoes (farmers market or farm stand), it won’t be nearly as good—that’s why I call it “summer” pasta. I hope you enjoy this. It’s pretty satisfying, and amazingly simple.—Chris Christensen
(Makes 4 to 6 servings)
4 large, ripe tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
¾ pound medium or soft cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes, or, if soft, added to the mixture in dollops (I use either smoked mozzarella, brie, goat cheese, or a mixture of goat cheese and fresh mozzarella. Feta probably works, too, and if you use it, throw in some fresh mint!)
¾ cup fruity extra virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1 to 2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 cup basil leaves, chopped or cut into strips
Arugula (optional, but if you have some, throw in a small bunch)
½ to 1 ½ teaspoons salt (start light and add to taste—the olives and capers will be salty)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound linguine
Combine all ingredients except the pasta in a medium noncorrosive bowl, cover lightly and set aside for 1 to 2 hours—NO LONGER. Do not refrigerate; if you do, you’ll kill the taste of the tomatoes, and the flavors won’t macerate.
Cook pasta until al dente, drain in a colander, and immediately return the empty pot to the turned-off burner. Pour in the sauce, add the drained pasta, and toss with a tongs to coat evenly. If you use regular mozzarella, cover pot for 1 minute to let it melt a bit. Serve immediately with grated cheese, and extra ground black pepper. If needed, drizzle with a bit more olive oil.