Summer Italian Style: Chef Daniel Costa’s spaghetti with raw tomato

daniel costa’s spaghetti with tomato sauce
Photo Steven Babish

Spaghetti with Raw Tomatoes, Chili, Basil and Pecorino
Wine pairing: Feudo Montoni Catarratto del Masso, Sicilia.
The smell of a tomato just plucked from its vine is at its best in the peak of summer, which is precisely when this dish should be eaten. If you grow your own cherry tomatoes you may find that you, luckily, have an abundance of these sweet little gems all at once and are eating them daily. Sicily is known for producing a ton of top-quality tomatoes which is likely why this dish is commonly eaten there throughout the summer months. The contrast of spicy chili, fresh mint, the sweet tomato and salty pecorino play beautifully together and definitely resonates with Sicilian cuisine. My chilis are rarely red by the time I start eating this dish and that is exactly how I prefer them, green. Using a rasp or fine grater to add a slight aroma of raw garlic to a dish like this makes all the difference in ensuring the hot garlic flavour does not overwhelm the bright sweetness of a ripe tomato. It is important to add the pasta directly from the boiling water to the bowl of tomatoes as the residual pasta cooking water and piping hot spaghetti ensures that you are left with a creamy sauce. I have also added capers and used arugula in replacement of the basil or mint, which worked very well.

250 g spaghetti, I prefer a thicker variety such as spaghettoni or spaghetti alla chitarra
300 g ripe room temperature cherry tomatoes, halved and quartered
4 T extra virgin olive oil
4 rasps grated garlic
handful basil or mint roughly chopped or ripped by hand
2 T grated Pecorino Romano plus more for topping
½ sm green chili, finely chopped
½ T kosher salt

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

While the water is coming to a boil cut half of the tomatoes in half and the other half in quarters. Place the tomatoes in a large bowl along with the olive oil, garlic, chili and salt. Allow to marinate while the pasta cooks.

Just before your pasta is al dente add the 2 tablespoons of Pecorino and basil or mint, stir to combine. Using tongs pull the cooked spaghetti directly from the cooking water into the bowl of tomatoes. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon or toss to create a slightly creamy consistency. Serve topped with more grated Pecorino and if you prefer, as I do, more chopped green chili.

Serves 2.