Saturday, June 11, 2011

Salsa Cruda - a.k.a bloody simple pasta sauce!

Salsa Cruda literally means "raw sauce", as this sauce requires no cooking at all.  There are so many variations of this, but essentially there are a few things in common with all of them: fresh tomatoes, olive oil, a summery herb, all at room temperature.  The pasta is added steaming hot, making a lovely contrast with the cool sauce. Drizzle with some extra Extra Virgin Olive oil just before serving :)

Everything about this sauce screams summer - invokes the feelings of al fresco dining, relaxation, possibly with a frosty glass of white wine :)

The most important thing in this sauce is that you buy the right quality ingredients.   I adore tomatoes for example, but I will not buy them unless they are EXACTLY the quality I want.  Same goes with everything else in this sauce.  Except the basil, because that's growing in pots all over our coutyard in an attempt to finally have enough basil to see us through summer (I swear we're all basil addicts here, I even use it on toast with a tiny drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of seasoning in the morning, it's not my fault, I walk past 2 basil plants on the way to the kitchen, I can't help but pick a leaf or 2!) 

simple, quick, easy, fresh.  :D

Today's salsa cruda involved the following - i'm giving you the quantities for 1 person, so it's easy to multiply:
  • 3 fresh, ripe, red summer tomatoes, Zenguli (the roma ones, egg shaped are my favourite!)
  • 1/2-1 clove of garlic per person - not too big, and chopped or crushed as finely as possible
  • Freshly picked basil, straight from the garden - a good handful
  • some good quality extra virgin olive oil (Pappas Organic Liquid Gold)
  • freshly ground pepper, some good (aka the cheapest stuff from the supermarket) Mediterranean seasalt, and optionally, some chilli (fresh, or dried if not available, optional)
  • 2-4 fillets anchovies, chopped (optional, omit or possibly replace with chopped black olives to make this dish vegetarian)***
  • 100g spaghetti 
Bring some enough water for the pasta to the boil, add around a tablespoon of salt once boiled.

While you're waiting for the water to boil, chop the tomatoes into small chunks into a small bowl, tear the basil leaves into it, add the garlic and anchovies and a small drizzle of olive oil.  make sure you season well with salt at this point to bring out the flavours and juices of the tomatoes. Add pepper and peperoncino.

Boil the pasta in plenty of very well salted water, and when it's done, toss with the tomato mixture and serve immediately

Serve while the pasta is still steaming hot :)

Place extra olive oil on the table to drizzle to taste - it's delicious with quite a portion of it, but leave it up to individuals to decide how much! :)

**Anchovies - many people hate them, but I assure you that if you chop them finely enough, the only thing they will do is add a saltiness with depth, I can't quite explain it, but trust me!  I adore them to bits, so am happy to leave them quite chunky so that i get an anchovy hit every now and then :)

This sauce is incredibly cheap to make, especially when tomatoes are in season, and basil is sprouting out of every other pot in the house :)

Don't even bother making this with tomatoes that aren't at their optimum.  This is a "only when in season" kind of dish.

This is a variation of a sauce my dad used to make - except his requires it to be made in the morning, so that all the flavours have a chance to marry and make extra flavour babies.  He added way more garlic, a small finely chopped onion, and if i remember well, some capers and/or chopped olives.  His was awesome, it reminds me of warm early evenings in summer, coming back from the beach all famished, and all we'd need to do was boil up some pasta and dinner was done :)

  • Feel free to add mint, or any other fresh herb that tickles your fancy
  • When I didn't have fresh herbs handy, i'd just add chopped tomatoes to a pesto, and this would be my "cheaty" salsa cruda :)  
  • You can add onion, but personally, i think raw onion tastes like the smell of bad body odour, so of course, I will not add it to my own :) 
  • Chopped sundried tomatoes... fantastic!
  • I love to add dairy to this (either in mozzarella or feta form) but i feel that it changes the whole feel of the sauce.  It adds a whole new dimension, which is fantastic, but it no longer remains a salsa cruda i feel, but more of a warm pasta salad.  I know.  It's probably me being nit-picky.  but it's true.  it's really one of those.  I have nothing against a warm pasta salad, and i make it oh so often, but this is a Salsa Cruda, not a pasta salad.  Yes.  No-one said it was a prerequisite not to be a  nitpicky pain in the arse when it came to blogging about food.  :) 


  1. Mmmmmm *drool*
    Yes the simplest things are sometimes the best really. If you have good, fresh raw ingredients then you're already three quarters of the way there. We're quite lucky to be surrounded by these in summer :)

  2. so true M&M!!! :) i always insist that shopping is 3/4 of cooking, as the selection of the freshest, most natural ingredients is such a huge part of it. we are lucky indeed!

  3. Hi I just discovered your blog. it s really interesting. I really like your recipes. Keep up the good work :)