Spaghetti al Crudo

Literally, spaghetti with a raw, or uncooked, sauce. It’s typically made with tomatoes, capers, olives, and anchovies. It’s a great dish to make during the summer because it requires a minimum of cooking and uses beautiful, fresh, quality ingredients. I made it over the weekend as a sort of last goodbye to the warm weather this year.

This recipe comes from London star chef Giorgio Locatelli. He says that on a hot day in Italy, many people add a tin of tuna to the sauce.

Serves 4

2 Tbsp. capers (baby ones if possible — if they’re very large, chop them up a little)
4 Tbsp. pitted back olives, quartered
5 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
2 very large tomatoes, or 3 smaller ones (the best quality you can find), finely chopped
2 Tbsp. tomato passata
400g spaghetti
1 bunch basil
5 Tbsp. olive oil

Put all the ingredients except the spaghetti, basil, and half the oil in a wide bowl and mix together, but don’t heat. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground pepper — though go easy on the salt, as the anchovies will add plenty.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, then drop in the pasta. Cook it for about a minute less than the time given on the package so it will be al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, place the bowl with the tomato mixture over the top of the pasta pot, so that the ingredients gently heat without being cooked.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it, but reserve the cooking water. Add the pasta to the bowl with the tomato mixture and toss, then add the rest of the oil and toss again. Add a touch of the cooking water if needed to loosen. Tear the basil leaves, sctatter on top, and toss again. Serve immediately.

Rotini in Herbed Balsamic Tomato Sauce

This is a different spin on the standard tomato sauce for pasta. The herbs and balsamic give it a deeper flavor, and the zucchini (courgettes) is a subtle way to work in some vegetables. It’s easy, tasty, and looks good on the plate, making this an ideal weekday dish.

4 sun-dried tomato halves
1 Tbsp. olive oil (or slightly more)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large zucchini (courgette), diced
2 cans peeled plum tomatoes, with liquid
1 tsp. (or more) dried rosemary
1 tsp. (or more) dried oregano
8 oz. dried rotini pasta
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese to taste

Cover the sun-dried tomatoes in boiling water and soak for 10 minutes or so. Drain and chop.

Heat oil in large pan over medium-high heat, then add the garlic. When fragrant, add the zucchini and cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes. Add the sun-dried and plum tomatoes, along with the herbs. Cook 15-20 minutes or until sauce is thickened, stirring often and breaking up the tomatoes with the spoon.

When the sauce is done, turn off the heat and add the balsamic vinegar. Stir to combine. Taste and season as desired with salt and pepper, then serve over pasta. Have cheese at the table to put on top.

Pasta con Salsa di Pignoli

This is an easy, no-cook, creamy sauce for pasta that works perfectly for these hot summer nights. The pine nuts (pignoli) add some crunch and protein. You can use either fat-free or regular dairy ingredients, and you can serve it atop any kind of pasta you like — although I favor linguine for this one.

The raw garlic is strong, so leave it out if it’s too much for you, but I personally loved the kick it added to the sauce.

Serves 3

300g (10.5 oz.) linguine
1/2 cup milk
170g (6 oz.) cottage cheese
1 large clove garlic, minced
6 Tbsp. pine nuts, plus extra for garnish
Dried oregano
Salt
Black pepper

Set a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Put the rest of the ingredients in a blender and mix until combined.

Cook the linguine in the water. When it’s done, drain it, then quickly whiz the sauce ingredients in the blender again. Arrange the pasta on plates and pour the sauce on top. Sprinkle a small handful of pine nuts on top, along with some more oregano. Serve immediately.