One of the best moments in my life as a parent who loves to cook was the day I stopped making separate meals for kids and grownups. It happened when my children were still quite young, after some early introductions to the Italian and Mediterranean cooking that's standard fare at our house—especially pasta.
When summer comes, I love to serve pasta dishes with raw sauces; the Italians call them pasta con salsa a crudo. With raw sauces, there's no cooking beyond boiling the pasta—the only heat applied to the sauce is the gentle warmth from the cooked pasta. My kids love these dishes, and they're fantastically fast and easy. I keep my pantry well stocked with high-quality condiments (see below), I see what looks good at the market, and I've got dinner for family or guests at a moment's notice.
Ingredients to keep on hand
A well-stocked pantry lets you make dinner at a moment's notice. You'll always be able to whip up easy, fast pastas if you keep ingredients like these on hand:
- extra-virgin olive oil
- Parmesan cheese
- black and green olives
- dried chiles
- canned tuna
- pine nuts
- fennel seeds
- sun-dried tomatoes
- dried pasta of various shapes and sizes
Good-quality fixings, finely chopped
There are a few tricks to Italian raw sauces that will ensure great-tasting results.