Tomatoes in the Raw

Raw Tomato Sauce on Pasta

I’m still avoiding any extended cooking, but I realized I’ve missed having a simple pasta dinner. For anyone that knows me, you know how strange it is when I say that we haven’t made a pasta dinner all summer. I’ve had some pasta salads, sure, but it’s not quite the same thing.

A trip to the Nathan Phillips Square farmer’s market on Wednesday gave me the perfect opportunity to combine my love of pasta with my desire to not be stuck in front of a hot stove.

Tomato Basket

Tomato season is in full swing here in Ontario, and I was inundated with piles and piles of fresh, ripe tomatoes of many varieties. I bought a few piles, in three varieties. To justify this purchase, I had to think of something that would use up a bunch of them at once. A raw tomato sauce was in order!

If you’ve never had a raw tomato sauce, you might be amazed at how simple and quick it is. It’s pretty much how it sounds – a sauce made up of uncooked tomatoes. “Sauce” might be a misnomer, though, as it’s almost more of a tomato salad that you toss with hot pasta.

There – I gave away my secret.

Chopped Tomatoes

The real secret is just how amazing it tastes when you have fresh, LOCAL tomatoes on hand. Like a tomato salad, it really won’t work with mealy tomatoes, or tomatoes that spent most of their ripening on a truck. I picked up a basket of roma tomatoes for this, but you could use your favourite unmealy (is that a word?) tomato.

The recipe I used can be adapted to your taste – use the kind of tomato you like best, use the herbs you like best, the oil you like best, the shape of pasta you like best (although short stubby ones like penne seem to work best). I added in some grilled eggplant, and I think next time I might add some blanched green beans for crunch. It’s a dish that is as easy to customize as the usual pasta sauce, but without all of the stewing and cooking stuff.

Recipe after the jump!

Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce and Lemon

Adapted from a recipe found in the book The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles.


  • 1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 long eggplant, halved lengthwise, grilled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound short pasta, like penne or fusilli
  • 1 tsp chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated


  1. While pasta is cooking, combine the following ingredients in a medium-sized bowl: diced tomatoes, eggplant, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, basil, salt and pepper.
  2. When the pasta is al dente, drain it, saving some of the cooking water. Put two tablespoons of the cooking water back into the pot, on low heat. Add the chili flakes, and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the drained pasta back into the pot.
  3. Add the tomato mixture to the pasta and mix. Add 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and toss.
  4. Serve immediately, topping each plate with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano.