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.

Melissa’s Black Bean Salad

I just came up with this recipe after testing two others that had been in my cookbook for years — and deciding I liked neither. What I wanted was a black bean salad that focused on the beans, with a little bit of of crunch and a lot of flavor, so I just mixed together the things I liked and wound up with a winner. I should have done it that way all along.

The flavor is a bit Tex-Mex (I seem to be on a southwestern kick lately). Adjust the chili powder to your liking — I accidentally made mine hotter than I intended, but I love it, and that’s the amount represented here. You can also add whatever other ingredients you like to make it your own — onion, chopped chicken, grated cheese, tortilla chips, or lettuce would all be very nice.

Serves 2 (easy to double)

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tomato, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 1/2 red peppers, chopped
About 10 sprigs of cilantro (fresh coriander), finely chopped
1 tsp. grated lime zest
Olive oil
Lime juice
2/3 avocado, peeled and chopped
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. chili powder or cayenne pepper
Black pepper

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy!