Recipe: Cavatelli with Pomodoro Crudo, Herbs, and Pine Nuts
Sometimes I forget how rich hot pasta tossed with uncooked summer tomatoes and good olive oil can be. You get the raw tomatoes with their acid and slight sea taste, but the pasta’s gentle heat takes the edge off, leaving you with a full blast of tomato warmth. An intense aroma comes up as you toss the pasta. Not only do the tomatoes open up, but the raw summer garlic lets off its essence, the olive oil bursts forth, and fresh herbs come alive. I make a version of this a few times every August. Sometimes I add bold flavors such as olives or anchovies, but I left this one gentle and floral. No hot chilies, capers, olives, or sharp edges.
If you grow herbs, try this pasta, and if you don’t grow your own and don’t want to purchase four different herbs, just pick two. It’ll still be great. I feel you have to peel the tomatoes. The finished dish looks more elegant if you do, and taking their clothes off allows their essence to flow into the oil from all sides, letting the sauce really coat the pasta.
Cavatelli with Pomodoro Crudo, Herbs, and Pine Nuts
(Serves 6 as a first course)
6 large summer tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and well chopped
2 small fresh summer garlic cloves, minced
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
A handful each of basil, mint, tarragon, and Italian parsley, stemmed and roughly chopped
A big handful of pine nuts, lightly toasted
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound cavatelli
A small chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Place the chopped tomatoes in a colander over a bowl. Sprinkle them with salt, and give them a good toss. Let them drain for about an hour. (Summer tomatoes are juicy, and you want to drain them off so they don’t water down your pasta. Save the tomato water for a Bloody Mary.)
Now put the drained tomatoes in a large pasta serving bowl. Add the garlic and the olive oil, and give it all a stir.
Put up a large pot of pasta cooking water. Bring it to a boil, and add a generous amount of salt. Drop in the cavatelli.
When al dente, drain the cavatelli, and add it to the tomatoes. Add the herbs, pine nuts, and a generous amount of black pepper. Toss well. Give it a taste to see if you need more salt. Serve right away, with grated Parmigiano if you like (I like it with and without cheese, depending on my need for purity at the time).