If you are cravinga light yet flavorful pasta dish that is perfect for summer, then there is no need to look fruther! This Pasta alla Crudaiola is the perfect choice! It is a traditional Italian pasta dish that is made from fresh ingredients including tomatoes and basil and is a simple, quick and healthier pasta recipe to prepare. Perfect for any occasion.
With the warm Summer months no one really wants to turn on a hot oven, especially me! So when we want a pasta dish I always reach for a delectable pasta salad or cold pasta recipe. A few of our favorites are this Caprese Pasta Salad or Pasta alla Checca or even this Creamy Italian Pasta Salad, all worth tasty and worth trying.
- Tomatoes – cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes or large firm ripe tomatoes chopped
- Garlic – 1-2 whole garlic cloves
- Basil – fresh basil leaves
- Oil – extra virgin olive oil
- Salt –
- Pasta – cooked al dente
- Ricotta – Ricotta salata
What is Ricotta Salata?
It is a ricotta, but it doesn’t have the classic soft texture. It’s hard and is used grated to give more flavor to different dishes, it’s typical in the southern regions of Italy. Ricotta salata (salted) has the classic tapered shape but it is not considered a cheese, but it is a dairy product, produced from whey from sheep’s milk.
It is pressed, salted, dried and aged for 10 to 90 days, usually around 30 days. It is milky white in colour with a dry and crumbly texture and salty taste. Due to the salt, which accelerates a dehydration process, the ricotta loses up to 50% of the liquids it contained.
How to make Pasta alla Crudaiola
In a large bowl mix together the sliced tomatoes, garlic, chopped basil, olive oil and salt. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours.
When the time has almost passed cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. Don’t add too much salt since the cheese is already quite salty. Drain well but do not rinse.
Remove the bowl from the fridge, remove the garlic, add the cooked al dente pasta and shredded cheese.
Gently toss to combine. You may want to add the pasta warm so that it helps bring the rest of the ingredients to room temperature.
Top with more shredded cheese and basil before serving.
What does Pasta alla Crudaiola mean?
The English translation means “the raw style” from raw tomatoes to raw basil, garlic and even raw cheese. Nothing is cooked except of course the pasta.
How to cook pasta
Always cook the pasta in enough water, you will need 4 cups (1 litre) for 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) of pasta. Be sure to choose the correct size pot, you don’t want the water to reach the rim and overflow, because pasta, when cooked, can increase in volume up to three times. Always cover the pot when boiling the water, but remove it once the pasta has been added.
Calculate about 7 g of salt for every litre of water. Add the salt only when the water has reached a boil and never before.
After adding the pasta to the pot, bring it back to a boil and keep it at a boil while the pasta is cooking. This allows the pasta to achieve an even cooking, be sure to stir frequently while it is cooking.
Never pass the freshly drained pasta under running tap water. You should never stop the cooking, even when you are making a cold pasta salad, let it cool by adding a drizzle of olive oil to prevent it from sticking.
Drain the pasta al dente, this is done by tasting, if it has a bite to it it’s ready, nothing worse than mushy pasta. If you have to toss the pasta in a pan with sauce then cook it at least one minute less (pasta very al dente). And be sure to leave some pasta water to add to the pan.
What is the best pasta to use?
For this recipe I would recommend a short pasta such as penne, fusilli, farfalle or even mezzi maniche or mezzi rigatoni.
What if I can’t find ricotta salata?
If you can’t find ricotta salata then a good substitution would be crumbled feta cheese or shredded pecorino Romano cheese.
Should you rinse pasta for pasta salad?
No, you should never rinse pasta. Instead, you should drain it and then let it cool. To keep the pasta from sticking, toss it with pesto or olive oil.
Can you make this salad ahead?
You can make it up to a day in advance and keep it in the refrigerator. If the salad is a little dry before you serve it, toss it with a little extra olive oil.
What to serve with it
Pasta alla Crudaiola is perfect for a family or friend get together, especially when you are having a bbq or even picnic. Serve it as a main course or even side dish, along with Burgers, corn on the cob, serve it with some Grilled Eggplant or even an Italian Frittata.
How to store it
Any leftovers should be stored in the fridge, in an air tight container. It will keep for two to three days in the fridge.
Pasta alla Crudaiola is a perfect dish for summer because it is light, healthy, and easy to prepare. It is a meal that I think everyone will enjoy. Buon Appetito!
Pasta alla Crudaiola
- 11½-14 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes (sliced in half)*
- 1-2 cloves garlic (whole do not chop)
- 5-6 leaves fresh basil chopped
- 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (more if needed)
- 3-4 cups cooked al dente pasta (short pasta)
- 2-2½ ounces ricotta salata (shredded)**
- 1-2 pinches salt (divided)
*Or large firm ripe tomatoes chopped (I would probably seed the tomatoes also)
**If you can't find ricotta salata you can substitute with shredded pecorino Romano or crumbled feta cheese.
- In a large bowl mix together the sliced tomatoes, garlic, chopped basil, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
- When the time has almost passed cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. Don't add too much salt since the cheese is already quite salty. Drain well but do not rinse.
- Remove the bowl from the fridge, remove the garlic, add the cooked al dente pasta and shredded cheese, gently toss to combine. Taste for salt, add if needed. You may want to add the pasta warm so that it helps bring the rest of the ingredients to room temperature.
- Top with more shredded cheese and basil before serving. Enjoy!