This is something we eat a lot during the summer months when tomatoes are at their peak. It seems like such a shame to cook them for those few precious weeks that we have local tomatoes that are succulent and perfect. Nothing is better than a perfectly ripe tomato from your own garden, sliced up with nothing but a bit of sea salt and a grind of black pepper.
These tomatoes that I used for these weren't local but they were really juicy and sweet and delicious and so instead of throwing them into another salad, I made this pasta. The first time I ever had this was on my first day in Milan about a million years ago. I was going to work with my friend, John, who had been living there for months already so he picked me up from the airport and brought me back to his apartment, where I would be staying for a while so that I could shower and freshen up and maybe nap a bit before we went to explore the neighbourhood. He mixed the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil and a bit of fresh, hot chills and left the bowl out on the counter all morning with a tea towel over it. I wasn't sure what he was going to do with it but waited patiently to find out. He cooked some pasta, drained it and then threw it into the bowl with the oil and tomatoes and we sat side by side, each with a fork and ate the whole thing straight out of the bowl. At that moment, it was THE most delicious thing that I had ever put into my mouth and I fell in love with Italy right there on the spot.
The only change I have made to John's original recipe is that I always add chunks of bocaccini so that the hot pasta causes them to sort of melt a bit and get all gooeyy and chewy but the cheese stays in chunks. It really is so easy a child could make it but only make it when you have tomatoes that are out of this world and a great bottle of olive oil (I save my really good extra virgin for things like this). I think that the next time I make it I am going to splurge on Fiore di Latte Mozzarella or Buffalo Mozzarella but this time it was pretty spur of the moment and so I used what I could get at the supermarket.
Linguine with Raw Tomato Sauce
3 or 4 tomatoes, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed
about 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
some good salt (I used some fancy sea salt from Breton that I got for my birthday)
a few grinds of black pepper
handful of fresh basil ( i like to chiffonade but you can just chop it or cut it with scissors if you want)
about 100 grams of bocaccini, cubed
about 300-400 grams of linguine ( i usually do 100mg/person)
mix the tomatoes, the smashed garlic clove, oil, salt, pepper and basil together in a big bowl, cover with a tea towel and set aside for at least half an hour (I often let it sit all afternoon)
Put a big pot of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, throw your cheese into the bowl with the tomatoes and stir it around.
Cook your pasta until it's al dente - it really is better when the pasta still has just a bit of bite to it, drain it and throw the hot pasta into the bowl of tomatoes. Stir it around quickly, making sure it's all nicely mixed up and the cheese will start to get all gooey and if you are lucky, stringy.