Pasta Salad With Summer Tomatoes, Basil, and Olive Oil

June 23, 2019

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Pasta Salad With Summer Tomatoes, Basil, and Olive Oil

Image courtesy of Johnny Miller and food stylist Rebecca Jurkevich for The New York Times.

Tomatoes are now back in the market! Malandro Farm brought in some beautiful ones yesterday morning! I’ve been waiting for this moment. Who doesn’t love fresh, soil-and-sun grown tomatoes?

Many years ago, I got hooked on Pierre Franey’s uncooked tomato, basil, garlic, and olive oil sauce for penne pasta. I still love it and resort to it often when tomatoes are in season. But it’s nice to discover this similar and yet distinctively different recipe by Melissa Clark, with its greater variety of ingredients, flavors, textures.

“Cubes of fresh mozzarella, or bocconcini, make for creamy addition,” Clark notes. “Add them just before serving, so the heat of the pasta doesn’t melt the cheese.”

The Recipe


  • 2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup drained capers or sliced olives
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely grated or mashed to a paste
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1 large basil sprig, plus 1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves
  • 3 oil-packed anchovy fillets, minced (optional)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 pound short pasta, such as campanelle, fusilli or farfalle


  1. In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, capers, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper, red-pepper flakes, the whole basil sprig, and anchovies if using. Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir in 1/2 cup oil. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. The tomatoes should be aggressively seasoned. Let tomatoes marinate for at least 1 hour and preferably 2 to 3.
  2. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until it is just al dente, usually a minute less than the package instructions. Drain well. Add to bowl with tomatoes while still warm and toss well. Let pasta cool, soaking up the dressing.
  3. Let pasta sit at room temperature for at least another hour and up to 6 hours before serving. Or chill for up to 24 hours; bring to room temperature before serving.
    Just before serving, gently fold in torn basil leaves. Top with more olive oil and cracked black pepper before serving.

This locally inspired recipe is brought to you by Pam Walker. Pam is an avid home cook, writer, and local farm and food activist who is also a board member of the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute. Thank you, Pam, for helping inspire us to use locally sourced ingredients!