Summer Pasta with Fresh Herb and Tomato Sauce

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Summer Pasta with Fresh herbs and Tomatoes

It really doesn’t come easier than this. I first ate this sublime concoction in Rome during a blisteringly hot summer and I couldn’t believe how incredibly good something so simple could be.

One proviso, though: you really need the very, very best ingredients you can buy. The freshest herbs, the ripest, fattest, juiciest red tomatoes, some top quality extra virgin olive oil (Tokara is a good choice) and decent pasta. Otherwise it’s just not worth it. Don’t even think of using tinned tomatoes, Linda, it’s completely besides the point here. Gotta be fresh. Ripe. Juicy. That’s the way you want them. If you ever see one of those ZZ2 boxes with the large tomatoes still on the vine, snap ’em up. They were created for this pasta sauce. If life has been unkind to you and you can’t find large ripe tomatoes, go for 2 punnets of mini plum tomatoes instead, just chop them finely. Let’s be honest – most supermarket tomatoes aren’t great shakes, so I generally prefer to use mini plum tomatoes and just chop them really finely.

I use Barilla pasta in all my pasta dishes, so here I’d go for spaghetti or even spaghettini.

I like this quite cold, although room temperature is also OK, but it’s good to let the pasta, herbs and tomatoes stand for a bit, for the flavours to really infuse the whole gedoente. Something magical happens during this infusion time.

Shave some Parmesan over the bowl just before serving.

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Cooked Barilla spaghettini, waiting for its sauce
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Fresh herbs for the Summer Pasta sauce: clockwise from top basil, dill, Italian parsley, mint.
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Summer Pasta ingredients: mini plum tomatoes, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper


Serves 4

For 300g dried pasta, use:

5 large ripe tomatoes (ZZ2 grows the best quality I know of. You can sometimes buy boxes on the vine at Checkers, or check out Food Lover’s Market for plum tomatoes). Otherwise, use 2 x 250g punnets of mini plum tomatoes and chop them up into small pieces.

1 Tbsp fresh garlic, crushed to a paste (if you use one of those ready-chopped tubs, I’m personally going to come by your house and strangle you)

3-4 Tbsp (about 10g of each, or as much as you like, as long as it’s a LOT) of fresh herbs, stripped from the stems and very finely chopped: mint, parsley, dill and basil. Use in abundance, this is no time for restraint.

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (your very finest) I added some Willow Creek basil-infused EVOO

shaved Parmesan to serve


  1. Cut the tomatoes in quarters and cut away the core and seeds to form ‘petals’. Dice the flesh into very small pieces. Or chop your mini plum tomatoes into very small pieces. Put tomato, crushed garlic and chopped fresh herbs in a deep heat-resistant bowl. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a small saucepan until very hot but not smoking, because smoking hot oil gives you cancer. Or so they say. You’ll know the oil is very hot when it starts making ‘whorls’ in the pot. Now you leap into action.
  3. Carefully pour the very hot oil over the tomatoes and herbs. It will sizzle and maybe splatter a bit, so be careful. Best you have your apron on, here. Quick stir, and then leave it alone for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile cook your pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain, and add directly to the infused herb and tomato sauce. Stir a bit to blend, and let it stand until completely cool before serving. Top with Parmesan shavings, and feast.
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Stir to mix the herbs, garlic and tomatoes
summer pasta herbs tomato mix sonia cabano blog eatdrinkcapetown
Stir to mix the herbs, garlic and tomatoes before pouring on the olive oil

Sizzle! Pour the hot EVOO over the herb & tomato mix.

Toss pasta into sauce, stir to mix and let stand for 20 minutes so the flavours can infuse. Eat at room temperature or cold. Keeps well for up to the three days in an airtight container in the fridge.


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Celebrating life with food, wine, friends & happiness! Writer, cook and blogger. Author of four cookbooks. Passionately South African, proudly Capetonian.