No cook pasta sauce is one of the first dishes to hit the kitchen table in my house when garden fresh tomatoes start to roll in from the garden. It is quick and easy to make. It can be put together before you leave the house for the day. And when you arrive back home dinner is pretty much ready to go!
I love knowing on my drive home after a long work day that all I have to do to put a great dinner on the table is cook up a pot of pasta. And some nights that’s all the energy I’ve got to give.
Most often though, I manage to get a few pieces of garlic bread tossed in the oven to go with this dish. It’s also easy to do, and can be prepared along with the sauce, before I leave the house for the day.
Can I Use Store Bought Tomatoes For This Sauce?
More than a decade ago when I was first turned on to this recipe I fell in love with it. I must have made it at least once a week that summer. And when cooler weather began to set in, and garden tomatoes were no longer available, I tried making it with tomatoes from the grocery store.
I only tried once. It not only couldn’t compare to the dish as it was intended, garden fresh, but it was actually pretty tasteless. Not even worth eating in my opinion.
So no, you really can’t make this dish with store bought tomatoes.
Make it as often as you can while fresh garden tomatoes are available. Whether they come from your own garden, a roadside stand, or your local farmer’s market, get in your share of no cook pasta sauce while they’re in season.
And then settle for dreaming about this dishes decadence until next year.
Is It Okay To Substitute Dried Herbs For This Recipe?
As with the tomatoes in this recipe, it is very important that you use garden fresh herbs. Dried herbs just don’t have what it takes to impart the level of flavor that the dish calls for.
This dish is created on the principle of cold infusion. You are mixing room temperature ingredients into oil and allowing them to sit and blend together for several hours.
This process works very well. But, as with all things, it does have it’s limits.
In order to pull enough flavor out of an herb that has been dried you would need to heat this dish. BUT, that would completely change it’s flavor profile.
And it would defeat the very purpose of the dish. It is meant to sit patiently on your countertop, marrying all of it’s garden fresh flavors, so that it is ready for your dinner when you arrive home.
The flavor that only raw, garden fresh tomatoes possess is what makes this dish so spectacular.
And so it is with the raw, garden fresh herbs. They lend a flavor to this dish that can’t be achieved by making it with dried herbs. Trust me, I’ve tried this as well.
What kind of Pasta Goes Best With No Cook Pasta Sauce?
No cook pasta sauce can be served on any pasta you choose.
I have had it on a wide variety of pasta shapes and sizes. And it has always been a treat. I do prefer to eat it on a pasta that has less bulk to it though.
When it is poured over a hefty pasta like rigatoni it seems a to carry a little less punch. The sauce has a mild flavor and it’s a bit tastier when it’s paired with a more delicate pasta. It doesn’t have to compete with the starchy overtones of the pasta.
This is why I almost always serve it on angel hair pasta. Other choices that I’ve been fond of are small shells, ditalini, and orzo.
How To Make No Cook Pasta Sauce
I’ve never used any specific measurements to make this sauce, so it’s impossible for me to include them here for you.
I’ve made very small batches and crowd size batches. I will base the following steps on a mid-size batch for you. It’s a great way to ‘get your feet wet’ making no cook sauce.
It’s super easy to do so don’t feel intimidated, just jump right in and give it a try. If you’re more of a visual learner, check out the YouTube video I created for this recipe. You’ll find it posted above.
Otherwise, the following steps should be all you need.
- Chop 4-5 medium sized, fresh garden tomatoes into bite sized chunks and place them in a large bowl.
- Lightly salt the tomatoes. Toss them to distribute the salt.
- Press 2-4 large garlic cloves into the bowl. It is recommended that you use at least a little more garlic than you normally would in another dish.
- If you would like your sauce to have a little ‘kick’, throw in some red pepper flakes.
- Coarsely chop a large amount of garden fresh basil and throw it in the bowl. You should have at least 2 cups of basil going in there.
- Coarsely chop a moderate amount of garden fresh oregano and toss it in the bowl as well. You want to add at least 1/2 cup of oregano, I use about a full cup when I have it on hand. The oregano is an optional ingredient. So if you don’t have any you can skip it all together.
- Slowly pour in extra virgin olive oil until you are about an inch from covering the tomatoes and herbs.
- Toss all the ingredients together, cover with a clean towel, and allow to sit on the countertop for 8-10 hours.
- Cook up a box of pasta, your choice. And top with the sauce.
- It is a nice addition to sprinkle some parmesan, asiago, or romano cheese on top of this dish before serving.
How To Store Leftover No Cook Pasta Sauce
If you are fortunate enough to have any sauce left after you’ve had you’re fill of it for dinner, you can simply place it in a covered container and store it in the refrigerator.
It is rare that it makes it that far in my house. Although, I have been known to make a larger batch so that I do indeed have leftovers.
I have discovered several ways to use leftover no cook pasta sauce that I really enjoy. And it’s nice to have it around for another meal or two later in the week.
What To Do With Leftover Sauce
Let me share my top 3 favorite ways to enjoy leftover no cook pasta sauce with you …
One of the simplest ways to enjoy leftover sauce is to eat it on top of toasted garlic bread, much as you would eat bruschetta. You can place it on the top of the bread before you toast it and enjoy it slightly warmed. Or you can just spoon it on top of the toasted bread and enjoy the contrast of the cold tomato blend and warm bread. Either way is a win.
Another great way to use up those no cook sauce leftovers is to turn them into a green salad. Just toss them over a bed of lettuce and you’re good to go.
But, might I suggest, adding some black olives and cucumbers to the mix. You might even want to consider throwing a few sliced pepperoncinis on there. YUM!
And the final way that I have found to make good use of no cook sauce leftovers is to cook with it’s juice. My favorite dish to do this with is sliced eggplant.
I simply strain some of the juice from the sauce into a cast iron frying pan and saute a little sliced eggplant in it. When the eggplant is cooked I throw the tomatoes and herbs on top of it, right in the hot pan. Then I remove the pan from the burner immediately so that the tomatoes and herbs don’t cook down.
The idea here is to allow the tomatoes and herbs to warm through by sitting in the hot pan on top of the cooked eggplant, without actually cooking them.
I hope you fall in love with this no cook pasta sauce as I have. It’s a great dish to make on days when you don’t have a lot of time. AND it keeps the kitchen from getting too warm on those hot summer days.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments below. Did you make it for yourself? Did you think it was as amazing as I do? And did you have any leftovers?
We can chat about what you did with those leftovers as well. Maybe you have an idea or two for them that you can share with me!
So meet me in the comments and let’s chat about it!
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