Italian Regional Recipes Primi Piatti: Pasta, Rice, Soups

Crudaiola – Raw Tomato Pasta Sauce

Crudaiola is a play on the more common term pizzaiola, which indicates the tomato sauce normally used for pizza; because crudo is the Italian word for raw, the crudaiola is a pasta sauce sauce made only with raw ingredients. The pasta alla crudaiola is a recipe from the city of Bari, in Puglia, a region in the South of Italy; it’s scrumptious and easy to prepare, extremely cheap, and incredibly healthy.

If you’re skeptical about eating warm pasta mixed with a cold sauce, think again: get some fresh vegetables, some short pasta (we opted for orecchiette as it’s a pasta shape typical of Puglia) and take a chance on this recipe. It’s perfect on a hot summer day or to pack some lunch for work.

Serves: 4 | Preparation time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 10 mins

  • Orecchiette or any short pasta of your choice: 380 g
  • Cherry tomatoes: 350 g
  • Basil, fresh: 10 leaves
  • Garlic: 1 or 2 cloves
  • (optional) Oregano, dried: 1 tbsp
  • Ricotta salata (aged ricotta), grated: to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO): to taste
  • Salt: to taste


Rinse the basil and the tomatoes under cold running water and chop them finely. Peel the garlic and roughly cut it in two or three pieces, that need to be easily removed from the sauce before eating it.

Mix the tomatoes, the basil and the garlic together in a bowl, along with the olive oil, the oregano and a pinch of salt. Stir thoroughly, then cover the bowl with some clingfilm and refrigerate it for 1 or 2 hours, or long enough for all the flavours to combine.

Boil the orecchiette in a pot of salted water and drain them when they are cooked through, but still a bit al dente.

Tip: You can measure the right time to drain the orecchiette by shortening the suggested cooking time of about 2 minutes.

Take the sauce out of the fridge and remove the pieces of garlic. Put the pasta in the bowl and stir to mix it with the sauce. Garnish with the ricotta salata and some basil leaves before serving.

Tip: You can add different vegetables to this pasta sauce, like some sweet corn or some thinly cut raw aubergine or courgette. Some Pecorino or a firm goat cheese are a good alternative to the ricotta salata.

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