This is definitely my favourite pasta of all. Easy and quick to make and yet very tasty, for me it’s THE Summer pasta, often eaten cold as a salad.
It’s called crudaiola from crudo (raw in Italian) because all the ingredients used for the sauce are raw. Technically the cheese is not raw but you get what I mean: this is a no-cook sauce.
Just tomatoes – make sure you get really tasty ones – with basil, salted ricotta and extra virgin olive oil. Some people like to add a bit of garlic like I did this time but I can assure you that this dish is going to be super tasty even without it. If you want just a hint of garlic, rub the pasta bowl with a peeled clove before using it. That will be enough.
Also the black pepper is not really essential, so add it only if you want. Salt is usually not necessary since the ricotta is already pretty savoury, but adding a pinch of it is totally ok.
Ricotta salata (salted ricotta) is a very dense type of ricotta, usually made with sheep’s milk and preserved in brine. Hence the saltiness. For this dish you need to grate it really coarsely, quite contrary to the classic way of grating pasta cheese in Italy.
Short pasta is the best option. Rigatoni, tortiglioni or penne are perfect since they “catch” the condiment so well.
Prepare the sauce in advance and leave in the fridge for at least half an hour so that all flavours get properly combined. The basil will oxidise and get dark pretty quickly so keep a few whole leaves to garnish the plates and a few more that you can cut in thin strips (chiffonnade) to add just before serving. This way you’ll keep some of the basil’s beautiful green accents.
It goes without saying, you’ll need a very good EVOO. Since this dish is typical from Puglia, you might want to use a Pugliese, but a Sicilian will be perfect too.
And now let’s get cooking!
You can find a quick video of this dish in my Instagram reels.
Copyright photos: Nicoletta Tavella
Pasta alla crudaiola
Ingredients for 2-3:
4 plum tomatoes (San Marzano or other good tomatoes)
2 cloves of garlic
100 gr. ricotta salata
220 gr. tortiglioni
extra virgin olive oil
a small bunch of basil
Cook the pasta in abundant salted boiling water.
In the meantime, clean the tomatoes by eliminating the green parts and the tough bits, then dice them.
Grate the ricotta salata coarsely and mix 2/3rds of it with the tomatoes, a good glug of olive oil, some of the basil, shredded, the finely chopped garlic cloves and a bit of pepper.
Drain the pasta al dente and toss with the sauce. Add the rest of the cheese.
If you want to serve this as a salad, drain the pasta very al dente and rinse with cold water before tossing with the sauce. Keep in the fridge for a while. During this rest it will absorb some of the moisture contained in the sauce and will get softer, that’s why it’s important to drain it when it’s still a bit too much al dente.