My Recipe Box

No-Cook Tomato Sauce (Salsa Cruda)


Serves four to six.

  • To learn more, read:
    No-Cook Tomato Sauces
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 87

This sauce is for 1 lb. of imported Italian dried pasta. You can pair the sauce with any pasta shape, though it clings best to short, ridged types like penne rigate and rigatoni.

  • 2 lb. ripe tomatoes (about 3 large or 4 medium), cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsely or basil (or both)
  • 1 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic (1 medium clove)
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper; more to taste
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Combine all of the ingredients in a non-reactive bowl large enough to hold the tomatoes and the cooked pasta; mix well. Let the sauce sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.

Toss the sauce with just-cooked pasta. Adjust the seasoning to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.


While salsa cruda is delicious on its own, you can choose one of these tasty additions for a little variety:

Cheese: Stir the cheese (see choices below) into the No-Cook Tomato Sauce after it has sat at room temperature and just before adding the pasta. In addition to the 1 cup Parmigiano, choose 1/4 to 1/2 lb. of another cheese, depending on how strong or sharp it is.

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 to 1/2 lb. of one cheese:

Feta, crumbled
Asiago, grated
Maytag blue, chopped
Gorgonzola, chopped
Fresh mozzarella, diced
Fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Tapenade: Yields about 3/4 cup. Mix half the tapenade into the No-Cook Tomato Sauce before it sits at room temperature. Garnish each serving of pasta with some of the remaining tapenade.

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1/4 cup pitted green olives
1/4 cup pitted oil-cured black olives
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest 
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary (from 1 medium sprig)

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until very roughly chopped, about 13 pulses.

Basil Pesto: Yields about 1-1/4 cups. Stir the basil pesto into the No-Cook Tomato Sauce after it has sat at room temperature and just before adding the pasta.

2 cups firmly packed fresh basil (preferably Italian Genovese)
1 large clove garlic
1 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts

Put the basil, garlic, salt, and 2 or 3 grinds of pepper in a food processor and process until the basil and garlic are finely chopped, about 15 seconds. With the machine running, pour 1/4 cup of the olive oil down the feed tube in a slow, steady stream. Turn off the processor and add the Parmigiano. Process until the cheese is incorporated, about 20 seconds. With the machine running, slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup oil. Add the nuts and pulse until they’re coarsely chopped.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : Salsa Cruda with pasta, Calories (kcal): 480, Fat (kcal): 20, Fat Calories (g): 180, Saturated Fat (g): 3, Protein (g): 12, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 13, Carbohydrates (mg): 62, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 2.5, Sodium (g): 440, Cholesterol (g): 0, Fiber (g): 5,

Photo: Scott Phillips

Our family favorite for enjoying heirloom tomatoes. I use a mix of tomatoes. I love the recipe as is, but last night tried it with 3/4 of the suggested olive oil. Came out great - maybe even better bc. a bit less liquidy. I use it on cavatappi pasta (the curves really grab the sauce) and add lots of good parmesan cheese (reggiano). This recipe is all about the quality of the ingredients - best flavorful tomatoes, olive oil, fresh basil and quality parmesan.

For the past couple of years I've made this recipe almost continuously when my tomatoes come in. It makes a great, quick summer supper, especially with cold pasta. (I just rinse the cooked pasta under cold water to cool it off). My wife and I especially like the variation with fresh Mozzarella cheese.

This is one of the first recipes I turn to with the first tomatoes of the season. It is basic and simple, the best way to enjoy a home-grown tomato. It can easily be dressed up to showcase other special ingredients as well.

great recipe, delicious, versatile and easy to make for a party. I added olives, diced grilled zucchini and goat cheese chunks.

I used a variety of heirlooms and added about a tablespoon of balsamic which gave a nice flavor - and tossed with angel hair. I served this at room temperature at a barbeque and it disappeared faster than anything else out. Everyone wanted the recipe.

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