Capellini with Fresh Tomato Sauce

by Matt on June 29, 2009


Everyone has their favorite recipes. Whether they come from dogeared books or handwritten on yellowed paper or even crinkled laser print-outs, these recipes become favorites in the kitchen and almost become a part of us. I have several that I rely on regularly but none as much as this recipe. It’s a key player in my arsenal of recipes that first appeared in the July edition of Gourmet Magazine from 2006. I remember making it three years ago and completely falling in love with it. A simple pasta dish of angel hair and the best, ripest tomatoes you can find (heirlooms work perfectly!) make for a really simple supper because there’s no cooking involved except for boiling the pasta. And in the dead of summer the last thing anyone wants to do is turn on the oven or stand over a stove cooking for an hour. That’s why this is such a perfect recipe that I’ll usually make weekly from now until the end of August. It tastes like summer.

It’s pretty foolproof and it’s all about technique here. Two-thirds of the super-ripe tomatoes get diced while the rest get grated with a box grater using the large holes. Pulp, juice and chop make the sauce here and the addition of lemon juice and salt give it that zing. I’ve made it with and without the sugar, that’s mostly a matter of personal preference. The recipe also says it can be made 2 hours in advance but that’s about it. It’s meant to be enjoyed relatively quickly.

Capellini with Fresh Tomato Sauce Gourmet July 2006

cappdetailI’ve never met Ian Knauer from Gourmet but if I did I’d want to shake his hand or give him a hug for this recipe. It’s summer in a bowl. I’ve found that this is a great recipe for tomatoes that are a bit too ripe or for tomatoes of irregular size that cannot be sliced well for salads or caprese. And remember, angel hair is a must in this dish as anything thicker becomes too heavy since the sauce is raw.

1 small garlic clove
3 lb tomatoes (ripe, please!)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 lb dried capellini
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
extra virgin olive oil for dressing

Mince the garlic and mash it into a paste using a pinch of salt.

Core and roughly chop two thirds of the tomatoes. Halve the remaining tomatoes crosswise then rub the cut sides of the tomatoes against the large holes of a box grater. Remember to use the largest holes possible. Grate into a large bowl, reserving pulp and discarding the skin. Toss the pulp with the chopped tomatoes, garlic and salt paste, lemon juice, salt, sugar (optional) and black pepper. Let stand until ready to use, at least 10 minutes.

While the tomato sauce is standing, cook your pasta in boiling salted water, uncovered until al dente, 2 minutes or so. Drain in a colander and immediately add to tomato mixture, tossing well to combine, Sprinkle with basil and drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt before serving.