Crudaiola is one of the most delectable and simplest Summer sauces for pasta or rice. Diced fresh tomatoes, plenty of basil, a little garlic, a generous glug of olive oil and a pinch salt – a delicious no-brainer. Actually, there is one more crucial ingredient the cook must not forget: time. For the magic to happen, crudaiola must be made in advance, the early morning for lunch, for instance. During this time, the ingredients interact with each other and the sauce is transformed from good to excellent.The tomatoes wilt a little and release their lovely summery juices, the olive oil lends body, the garlic and basil muscle in with their heady perfume. When this simple mix hits the hot, plain pasta or rice, the explosion of flavor and smell is truly special. During the often unbearable Italian summer, this uncooked sauce can wake up the most jaded palate and it is a great asset for the cook because it can be assembled quickly just before going to work or to the beach and then kept at room temperature (or in the fridge if it is really super hot)
To ring a change, the basic version can be jazzed up: one could add few black olives, some capers, a few roquette leaves and/or some shavings of ricotta salata..Sometimes I use mint instead of basil or a mix of herbs (basil, mint, parsley, oregano always fresh, of course); I occasionally chop the garlic instead of using whole cloves (removed before serving) or I add a pinch of peperoncino.. This sauce works equally well with pasta (it is particularly glorious with orecchiette) and with plain boiled rice. Crudaiola never faisl to charm .
There is no recipe for crudaiola of course, just guidelines.
This is what I do: I generally use firm cherry tomatoes, because they are so sweet these days, and I dice them rather small. If I use bigger tomatoes, I never skin them, but it is really up to you. I then salt them very lightly and dress them with olive oil, plenty of basil and some cloves of garlic. This is let to rest, covered for few hours, at room temperature.
I cook the pasta, I drain it thoroughly and I pour it over the sauce. A quick mix, an extra drizzle of olive oil and lunch is ready.
the word crudaiola does not exist in the Italian language, however it clearly derives from the adjective crudo, which means raw.
A curiosity: in 1958 Elizabeth David described this dish for an article written for Vogue (London edition). You can now find the recipe in the her wonderful An Omelette and a glass of Wine where she calls it Giulia’s tomato sauce and dry rice