Dinner Recipes

Pasta & No-Cook Tomato Sauce

Pasta & No-Cook Tomato Sauce

This dish is refreshingly easy to make. As the name advertises, there’s no sautéing, no roasting, and no long-winded simmering. But roll up your sleeves: there’s some quick and delightfully messy prep work.

The base of the no-cook sauce is a homemade tomato pulp that starts with slicing the tomatoes and removing their seeds and jelly — in other words, the bitter and blandly watery bits. You could do it with a small spoon, but we prefer to slice the tomato in half and give each side a gentle squeeze. (Over a bowl, the sink, or the compost if you’re feeling efficient.) It’s so pleasing when the whole jelly packet rolls out of the tomato and plops into the bowl. And it’s even more satisfying to chop up the tomatoes and crush them to a juicy, flavorsome pulp with the back of a wooden spoon. (Or your hands. Talk about cathartic.)

Once that’s done, you’re home free. All you have to do is stir a bunch of sweet cream butter, olive oil, grated Parm, shaved garlic, red wine vinegar, and crushed red pepper flakes into the tomatoes. Set them aside at room temperature, and let time meld all the flavors. When you toss the sauce with the hot noodles, the butter, olive oil, and cheese will melt into the rich tomato pulp, a marriage of fatty and fresh that creates a thick, surprisingly saucy sauce — deeply savory and bright, with just a hint of heat.

It’s so simple, but it tastes just like the bowl of pasta and red sauce you get at your favorite Italian bistro. The best part, kitchen heroes of the work week, is that you can make the sauce well ahead of time — in the morning, during a conference call, or even the night before — and it’ll be ready to go. Come dinnertime, all you have to do is boil some water and cook the pasta.

Our tip: Yes, we’re serious about the “small fistful of salt.” You want a full punch of salt. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not there to make the water boil or keep the noodles from turning into a sticky ball, it’s there to provide flavor. A well-salted noodle makes a much better companion for your sauce.

Servings: 4


1½ lb ripe tomatoes, any shape (larger than cherry tomatoes)
1 garlic clove
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 tsp red wine vinegar
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1 cup), divided
Kosher salt, to taste
12 oz Gelson’s spaghetti or linguine
1 cup basil leaves, torn


  1. Cut the tomatoes in half through the equator. Hold the halves in your palms and gently squeeze over a bowl to remove the seeds and surrounding juice. Discard the seedy juice.

  2. Roughly chop the tomatoes and put them in a large bowl. Use the back of a large spoon, a potato masher, or your hands to smash the tomatoes, releasing more juice.

  3. Use a microplane or fine grater to shave the garlic clove into the bowl.

  4. Add the butter, red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and half of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Season with several pinches of salt, then toss with a large spoon to combine.

  5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 5 hours. This lets the flavors marry and the tomato juices exude (because we want a saucy pasta).

  6. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (4 to 6 quarts) and add a small fistful of salt. Following the package instructions, cook the pasta until al dente.

  7. As soon as the pasta is ready, use tongs to transfer the noodles to the bowl with the tomatoes and toss. You want the hot pasta to melt the cheese and butter, which will thicken the sauce.

  8. Season with salt as needed, and then toss in the basil.

  9. Using tongs, portion the pasta into 4 shallow bowls and spoon the remaining tomatoes and juices over each. Top with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano, drizzle with oil, and serve hot.

Recipe source: Bon Appétit

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