Our friend Franco Azzara made this memorable pasta dish for us during a recent visit to his home in the Gallura region of Sardinia. I marveled at how quickly he put it together, and at the complex flavor of the raw sauce—just fresh tomatoes, basil and mint, and other savory seasonings, whipped up in a food processor, no cooking necessary. I thank him for sharing this Azzara family recipe, one that I know you will enjoy both for its ease and convenience and for its brilliant flavors.
- For the sauce
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt12 ounces ripe cherry tomatoes, about 2½ cups
- ½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- ¼ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
- ¼ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 2 small anchovy fillets, finely chopped (2 teaspoons)
- 1 plump garlic clove, crushed and peeled
- ⅛ teaspoon peperoncino flakes, or to taste
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup small capers, drained for the pasta
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 cup freshly grated pecorino (or half pecorino and half Grana Padano, for a milder flavor), plus more for passing
You will need a large pot for cooking the pasta; a food processor; a large, deep serving bowl. Fill the big pot with salted water (at least 6 quarts with a tablespoon kosher salt), and heat to a rolling boil. To make the sauce: Rinse the cherry tomatoes, basil, and mint leaves, and pat dry. Put them all in
the food-processor bowl along with the pine nuts, anchovies, garlic, salt, and peperoncino. Process until puréed, scraping down the work bowl as needed. With the machine running, pour in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, forming a thick, emulsified sauce. If serving now, scrape the sauce into a warmed deep serving bowl, and stir in the whole capers. When the pasta water is boiling, drop in the spaghetti, stirring and separating the strands. Cover the pot, return the water to a boil over high heat, then set the cover ajar, and cook the pasta until al dente. While the pasta cooks, ladle some of the boiling water into the serving bowl to warm it. Scrape in the sauce, and stir in the capers. Lift the spaghetti from the pot, let drain for a moment, drop it into the bowl, and toss well, until all the strands are coated with sauce. Sprinkle the parsley and grated cheese, and toss again. Serve immediately, passing more grated cheese at the table.