Makes 3 to 4 cups—enough to sauce 1 pound of cooked dry pasta
This recipe requires ripe and juicy home grown tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes from the farmers’ market. Be sure to have them at room temperature, for the sauce actually develops in the hour or two that it marinates: salt draws the juices from the tomatoes and they become infused with the flavors of basil and garlic. Then all you do is toss piping hot pasta with the tomatoes and enjoy one of the rare treats of summer.
- 2 pounds ripe summer tomatoes, preferably heirloom varieties in a mix of colors and shapes
- 3 to 4 plump peeled garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 large basil leaves (about 3 tablespoons shredded)
- 1/4 teaspoon peperoncino, or more or less to taste
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup or more grated Grana Padano or cubed fresh mozzarella
Rinse the tomatoes, drain and wipe dry. Cut out the core and any other tough parts. Working over a big mixing bowl to catch all the juices, cut the tomatoes—cherry tomatoes in half; regular tomatoes into 1-inch chunks—and drop them in the bowl.
Smash the garlic cloves with a chef’s knife and chop into a fine paste (easier if you add some of the salt as you chop; mash the garlic bits and salt with the flat side of the knife too.) Scatter the garlic paste and the rest of the salt (1/2 teaspoon in all) over the tomatoes and stir gently. Pile up the basil leaves and cut into thin strips. Scatter these over the tomatoes, then sprinkle in the peperoncino. Pour in the oil, stir and fold to coat the tomatoes and distribute the seasonings.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it marinate at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
Toss the marinated sauce with freshly cooked and drained pasta. Serve as is or toss in 1 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano. For an extra richness, add 1 cup or more cubed fresh mozzarella.