Saturday, July 03, 2010

Summer Fare: Raw Pasta Sauce

While the blog has been rather quiet this past week, real life has been busy and productive. I passed my road test and finally renewed the drivers' license, something I had been putting off for way too long.

My new job starts in just 3 days and I know it will take a while to adjust to the new schedule. But this blog brings me a lot of joy and is an ongoing diary of my food-centric life; I don't want it to fall silent. The plan is to try and update the blog once a week or so, perhaps with shorter posts.

To commute to work, and go around town for errands, and for riding in the park, I bought myself a bike yesterday-

Believe it or not, it has been 11 whole years since I last rode a bicycle (a trusty red BSA SLR bike is what I used from middle school right past college). Turns out it is true what they say about riding a bike- you don't forget once you learn. I hopped on and rode confidently. Got any suggestions for what I should name my new bike?

I have to give a BIG shout-out to our friend Mike Weiss of Big Shark Bicycle Company and his team for being absolutely terrific and helping me pick out a sturdy and affordable bike that fits my needs. I love supporting independent local businesses, especially ones where they so obviously love what they do, and when they show their customers the love. They even tried to convince me that I don't look dorky (or dorkier than I usually do) in a bike helmet.

Meanwhile, the weather in St. Louis has been picture perfect. We have been gorging ourselves silly on summer produce, throwing together meals with the loot from the Farmers' Markets and consuming them without pausing for blog pictures. Last night I finally remembered to grab the camera.

This is what we enjoyed yesterday- whole wheat spaghetti with a raw pasta sauce, or salsa cruda, that simply captures the essence of summer. No cook recipes are always welcome in summer, although you will have to turn the stove on to cook the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, grab a big bowl and toss in ingredients to make the sauce. A gourmet meal awaits you in 11.5 minutes. This is not an exact recipe, just a general method that you can tweak to your heart's content. Because it is such a simple recipe, the quality of ingredients matters even more than usual, so please use the best seasonal produce you can find.

Raw Pasta Sauce 
Salsa Cruda

1. Start boiling salted water for pasta. When it comes to a rolling boil, cook whole-wheat spaghetti until al dente, then drain the spaghetti.

2. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a large bowl, mix the following-
  • 14 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large ripe fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 cup olives, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp. basil-walnut pesto
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, cut in chiffonade
  • Hefty pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Plenty of salt and pepper
3. Toss the cooked spaghetti with the sauce. Top with grated parmesan cheese and serve.

I'm sending this recipe to Presto Pasta Night, hosted at Fuss Free Flavors this week. This event is your one-stop shop for pasta inspiration for every season.

Neighbor Girl made this side dish to go with the spaghetti, again, something stunningly simple and completely delicious. This did not even make it to the table, everyone (except me- I don't do goat cheese) grabbed it in the kitchen and ate it standing up.

  • Halve and pit fresh apricots.
  • Grill them, or sear them on a pan with some butter, making sure to sear both sides.
  • Place the apricots cut side up on a plate, fill the centers with your choice of cheese (she chose a crumbled goat cheese) and drizzle with balsamic vinegar
To all my friends in the USA, happy Independence Day weekend! What are you doing this weekend?


  1. Congratulations - for the license, new cool bike and the new job. I guess you will still be in St L. That should be great. Update here as and how you get time. Best wishes.

  2. I had not ridden a bike in over 8 years, until last year. I gave up my gym membership and decided to ride everywhere for all my errands. It's been great. I love being out & about. Now that it's the dry season here in CA I bike almost every day. Library? Bike. Farmer's Market (in downtown Oakland no less)? Bike. Haircut? Bike.

    One word of caution however - even though I am a very careful cyclist I did get hit by a car last summer, by a driver who ran a stop sign. Never assume that just because you are looking right at them that they see you. Always wear a helmet, wear a fluorescent vest or something bright to be visible, and bike defensively. I'm back on bike again now though and enjoying it just as much.

  3. That is a nifty looking bike Nupur. Don't make us miss you very much OK?. Just enough time to get used to the new job - Congratulations!

  4. Hey the pasta looks so inviting. I am definitely going to try it.

    Congrats on your new job. Biking is indeed fun. It is actually funny that you asked what should you name your new bike. My husband has Raleigh Mojave and I have Raleigh Eva, and we refer to our bikes as Mojave and Eva. LOL :)

  5. New job, new bike and (re)new drivers' license! Congrats and best of luck with all three :)

  6. Enjoy your biking around Nupur! Its a cool green choice. I never learnt to ride a cycle as I was in Colaba and Fort in my childhood and my time was spent looking out of the window while I read a book. If we wanted to play we went to the nearby Fire station which had the only large road to play and was safe too else we had to go to Bombay gymkhana with an escort that meant going only on the weekends. Sports had place in my life only in school.

  7. Nupur best luck for your new job..

  8. Good luck with at your new job. Your bike looks shiny and nice...sent me down memory lane thinking of my own Hero cycle :-)


  9. hi Nupur(belive its your Name)
    One thing amazes me is your passion of good food. everybody loves food. however not many can take the pain to do R&D over it. your spouse is a one lucky guy. there is beautiful saying which says one who knows how to run kitchen can run the world. keep blogging about food. my hats off to you and people of ur kind who are blogging about food.thanks to your blog, i have been visiting others too ;-)

  10. congratulations on the job, bike and license... that's a whole lot of things happening... loving the pasta recipe!

  11. Thanks for taking part in PPN, yours looks lovely. I am hugly keen on as much raw as I can eat.

  12. Nupur, congrats on your accomplishments! Wow, so many good changes happening for you. I can't wait to try this raw pasta sauce. I've been looking for one that isn't cheese-heavy and this looks very flavorful. As for the holiday, I'm heading off to the shelter in a few to give the dogs some walks, and hopefully we'll have this pasta for dinner! Have a great weekend.

  13. nupur,

    congratulations on the job. i am very happy for you and hope you enjoy it as much as you love cooking. selfishly, i am sad you won't have as much time for your blog. :-( thank you again for the raw pasta sauce recipe - it looks yummy!


  14. Congrats on the new job and the new bike!

  15. Congrats on the new job, license and the bike Nupur. If my work place weren't 20 miles from my home, I would have loved to ride a bike to work. Enjoy the summer and your new job.


  16. Congratulations! on the job, the driving license ad well as making a committment towards your health and the environment!!

    That is a lovely cupcake and some juicy veggies! - hope you had a great weekend!


  17. congrats on your new job, n thanks 4 sharing a delicious recipe

  18. Congrats on the new job Nupur and the shiny new bike. Happy riding and sometimes driving

  19. Best of luck at the new job and with the very cool new bike. And a giant THANK YOU!!!! for a terrific looking pasta dish. See you at the Presto Pasta Night Roundup on Friday.

  20. SS blogs here- Thanks for the sweet wishes!

    Diane- Thanks for the tips! I do plan to wear a helmet every single time I ride and will be very careful in traffic. Many of the routes here run through dedicated bike paths in the park so that makes it a little better.

    indosungod- Oh you know I can't stay away from the blog ;)

    Amruta- The pasta is absolutely worth a try, especially since you have access to great fresh poduce thro' the co-op :)
    Mine is a Raleigh too! Raleigh Venture, not as cool-sounding as Eva (pouting) :D

    bek- Thank you, my dear!

    Anjali- You know, my mother was raised in South Bombay too, and never learnt to ride a bike, just like you!

    Madhuli- Thank you!

    Rupa- I know, when I hopped on the bike initially, the memories of riding cycles as a child came flooding back.

    raja- Thank you for the kind words, glad you are enjoying the work of the food blogging community!

    arundati- Yes, lots of things happening all at once :)

    Helen- I've been trying to eat more raw food too, especially in this season. Thanks for hosting PPN this week!

    Lisa- Aww, you are the BEST to care so much for the darling shelter puppies. I hope you enjoyed the pasta if you got a chance to try it. Cheese is entirely secondary here, and perhaps cashew powder or nutritional yeast.

    AS- The whole 5 years that I have been writing this blog, I was juggling it along with school and work, and I plan to continue doing the same.

    Kalyn- Thank you!

    Mamatha- I know, I'm very lucky to have a commute that is shorter. I hope you are enjoying a lovely summer too.

    Miri- I did have a very lovely weekend! Thank you for all your wishes :)

    Niloufer Riyaz- Thanks!

    Bong Mom- LOL thanks- yes, I need to practice the sometimes-driving so I don't forget how, all over again.

    Ruth Daniels- I'll be there at the PPN round-up, and I'll come hungry ;) Thanks for stopping by!!

  21. Congrats!! That a lovely dish. Hope u had a great weekend.

  22. Also, congrats on the licence and the new job. :)

  23. I used to ride a bike everywhere... all over Madras... even when I had to visit someone 12-15 km away, I'd wear a cap, some loose fitting t-shirt over comfy jeans and make sure I carry a bottle of water. It was more fun than riding the bus. Plus traffic in those days was much much more organized :)

    I like this pasta dish. Only one burner on, I can stand... mostly, it is all 4 :(

  24. Best wishes for your new job. Lovely looking pasta recpie :)

  25. Congrats on the bike and the job! You're a super star. As far as naming the bike goes, it has to be a lady for sure. How about Betty? Betty Bicycle.

  26. The bike looks great -- as someone who bought myself a new bike just two weeks ago, I can understand both the excitement and the need to give it a name. When I lived in Philly, I had a bike that looked a lot like yours (only it was beat-up, second-hand and bought from a short Japanese man for $25!). I loved that bike and named it Silver. Just a thought :)

  27. Wow Nupur, Congrats on your bike! And do great on your new job. Your pasta looks amazing. Will try it. And how is Dale?


  28. So many new things in your life, Nupur! What a big summer!!

  29. Congratulations on your new job Nupur!! Wishing you loads of success in this new endeavor. I can truly empathize you on passing the road test and be a legal driver in this country. I got my license in second attempt.. I was so so relieved and was glad that I can drive to work henceforth. Did you say you gonna ride the bike to Work?? Awesome... I wish I can do that too.. but chance of me getting back home safe is 50:50 though I take a country route to work.. lol.

  30. Congratulations for all the Nu Things in life - Nupur !!! :)

    Drive & Bike Safe ! :)

  31. Congratulations Nupur!! New bike, new job and the license and perfect pasta to celebrate.

    You can make totally raw pasta the same way. Just cut the zucchini in fettuccine style, add this sauce. Let it sit for few minutes before service. It tastes great :)

  32. Congratulations on the bike, license and the new job!! Love the star spangled cake, looks too cute!

  33. The new bicycle looks lovely -- props to the Big Shark team for making sure you have fenders. I tend to call my bike something generic like "kid" or "baby." The closest it has to a real name is Baby Jake (it's a Kona Jake), still not very original. Have fun out there, and let me know if you have questions about routes, commuting, etc.

    It's worth taking some type of bicycle traffic skills course. League of American Bicyclists now offers the classroom portion of their Traffic Skills 101 for free online at

  34. Hi Nupur, the pasta looks delicious! I like the idea of not having to cook the ingredients for the pasta sauce, that makes it a lot simpler. thanks for sharing.

  35. Nithu- Thanks, yes the weekend was very relaxing.

    Raaga- Isn't that great, when you were so self-sufficient and easy on the environment? Our cities would benefit immensely by making biking easier so there would be less cars on the road.

    Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal- Thanks!

    Holly- Oh goodness no :D Betty is very cute, I'll have to ride the bike for a bit and see if the name fits her ;)

    Sandhya- Congratulations on your new bike!!

    eatingmatters- Dale is doing well and says hello, thanks for asking. I'll post a pic of him one of these days :)

    Alanna- It is a great summer, so thankful for everything.

    RV- I've been a legal driver for years, just never drove, was my problem. Congratulations on passing your road test!

    Leena- Thank you- I am going to try my best to be a responsible driver and rider :)

    Ashwini- The star spangled cupcake is from a local bakery, my friend bought it over as a special treat.

    Mints!- I will totally try the zucchini spaghetti soon, it sounds so refreshing!

    Melissa- I'll definitely write to you one of these days to get some bike-commuting advice. Thanks so much for the offer, and for the link to the course!! Appreciate it.

    Mangala- Yes, no-cook dishes are a relief, very easy to out together.

  36. Nupur, congratulations on both new job and DL license. I can't ride a bike. I can't swim. I regret having not learnt these two and if you say you are going to ride on bike to work, I envy you the most. Pasta looks good.

  37. Congratulations on the new job, Nupur, and what a great idea to bike to work! I'll admit it's something I've always wanted to/hoped to do, but my commute is a long one and I am just too much of a wimp to ride on major roads with cars zipping past. Have fun!

  38. The new cruiser looks grand -- wishing you luck in every new endeavor, Nupur! :)

  39. The Food Hunter- Triple thanks for your wishes :)

    BangaloreBaker- You could learn, though, it is never too late to learn new things, is it? :)

    Vaishali- Most of my commute will be through a big park on a bike route so that makes it a lot easier. I agree that road biking is not much fun.

    Linda- Thank you so much!


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