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Updated Southern Cooking:
No Cook Pasta Sauce

John Tullock

I got this idea from Gourmet several years ago. Letıs face it, even the most dedicated cook may find a late summer heat wave too daunting to spend time in front of the stove. This recipe uses the best produce of the late season, and keeps you barely 10 minutes in the kitchen. The amounts given are for two servings, or the recipe doubles easily for company. Add a salad and fresh Italian bread, or even a first course cold soup, to create a summer dinner party.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a rolling boil. Add 1 cup small pasta, such as shells or ditalini. Cook 9 minutes, or according to the package directions.

While the pasta cooks, combine in a large, heatproof bowl 2 medium tomatoes, chopped, 2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 4 ounces shredded fresh whole milk mozzarella cheese, several grinds of black pepper, and a handful of chopped fresh parsley and basil (about 1/4 as much basil as parsley). Have a bottle of excellent quality (preferably Italian) extra virgin olive oil handy.

When the pasta is done, drain it in a colander and immediately dump it into the bowl with the other ingredients. Drizzle with 2 or 3 teaspoons of the olive oil, and toss with two wooden spoons until the mozzarella melts from the heat retained in the pasta. Serve immediately.

This dish can be varied endlessly with additives such as chopped proscuitto or other meats, pitted olives, or toasted pine nuts. While the pasta cooks, lightly toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over high heat, shaking and tossing to color them evenly, before adding them to the other ingredients. We found the original dish rich enough without further modification, though, because outside it was around 75°F at midnight.

John Tullock is an expert gardener and self-taught cook who likes to develop new recipes using his own fresh produce and the best from the local market. His interest in plants and horticulture begin in childhood, and he holds a masters degree in biology from The University of Tennessee. He also co-owns "Native Sons Nursery," a retail business that specializes in rare ornamental and gourmet vegetable plants.

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