Late summer tomatoes finally turning red and orange, check. Basil plants still producing loads of leaves, check. Garlic cloves and fruity extra virgin olive oil, check and check. These are the only ingredients you need for the easiest and tastiest 5-ingredient tomato sauce of all time. The results are simple and spectacular.
How is it that when tomatoes meet olive oil, garlic, and basil, gastronome poetry is created? It's such a simple assembly, yet so satisfying, delicious and familiar — yet different.
This sauce is a nice departure from the standard, hearty, slow-cooked version. The freshness of the ingredients and the piquant spice of the garlic create a nice balance of intense flavors. This recipe is a great way to use up tomatoes that have been lingering in the garden or on the counter for a hair too long. The marinating with all the herbs and oils "cooks" the tomatoes down a little, giving the sauce body and fullness.
This No-Cook Tomato Sauce would also make a great topping for bruschetta, a dip for flat bread or pita, or as the base for a Tuscan soup.
No-Cook Tomato Sauce
6 medium-sized heirloom tomatoes, roughly chopped
4 large garlic cloves, finely minced
10 leaves basil, cut into ribbons (reserve a little for garnish)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)
Place tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil into a large serving bowl. Stir mixture until all tomatoes are coated with oil and garlic is evenly distributed throughout the sauce.
Cover the bowl and let everything marinate for about four hours on the counter at room temperature. Add salt and pepper to taste. The tomatoes will release their juices and flavors will meld. If you can't wait the full four hours, it's still tasty right out of the mixing bowl!
Serve over warm pasta or bread, with more fresh basil and Parmesan cheese, if desired.
This recipe has been updated. Originally published September 2010.
(Image credits: Leela Cyd)