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Penne al Pomodoro Crudo (Penne with Raw Tomato Sauce)


Indian summer, that strange spike in temperature and humidity that occurs following the first frost. Okay, so maybe we haven’t had a first frost yet, but the weather in the Mid-Atlantic has been so screwy lately that it makes me feel like anything goes.

I just know that it has been pretty warm out, warm enough to make me still crave food that minimally requires use of my stove.

Pomodoro crudo is the simplest of sauces, and an excellent way to savor the very last of this season’s tomatoes. I used a big, fat heirloom tomato, the jolie-laide of summer fruit. A little gnarly, very misshapen, but incredibly full, flavorful, and delicious.

And it goes without saying that the better your core ingredients, the better the sauce will be.

Ingredients:

About 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of very good, very ripe tomatoes

1 clove of garlic, lightly crushed

About 2 tablespoons of excellent extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Fresh basil

About 1/3 pound of dried penne

How to prepare:

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.

2. Set up a large ice water bath.

3. When the water begins to boil, score an X on the bottom of each tomato. Drop the tomatoes gently into the boiling water and leave them in for about 20-30 seconds, depending on how big your tomatoes are. Remove them carefully from the boiling water, and slip them into the ice water bath. You should now be able to easily remove the skin of each tomato.

4. Once all the tomatoes are peeled, cut them in half and remove the seeds. Chop each tomato, and transfer everything to a medium-sized bowl. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste (you can salt liberally). Add the olive oil and the crushed clove of garlic. Stir everything together, and let the sauce sit covered and undisturbed on the counter for about 30 minutes.

5. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the penne and cook it until it is just slightly under-al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Toss everything together, and remove the garlic clove.

The pasta should begin to absorb some of the excess liquid in the sauce.

Hand-tear a handful of basil and add it to pasta. Toss again, and serve.

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