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This fast and fresh tomato sauce is the easiest! Made simply with ripe tomatoes, basil and garlic, it’s the BEST summer-inspired sauce for all types of pasta, or use it as a bruschetta topping and to go with grilled fish or chicken.
Make this Italian-style “pasta alla checca” tomato sauce at the peak of summer or anytime you don’t want to cook, or just can’t cook.
This very tasty tomato sauce is made with uncooked fresh tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and fresh basil. Like classic spicy arrabbiata sauce and puttanesca sauce, I almost don’t want to call it a recipe because it’s such a simple combination of ingredients.
The sauce couldn’t be easier — you can literally throw it together it in 5 minutes (like a 5-minute pizza sauce that you don’t need to simmer). It’s an ideal hot-weather sauce because it can be made it ahead and served at room temperature. Combine it with whatever cooked pasta shape you enjoy.
Ingredients for the sauce
- Tomatoes: Of course homegrown tomatoes are ideal. But if you’re like me and don’t have a garden, supermarket or farmer’s market heirloom tomatoes, vine tomatoes, or plum tomatoes all work beautifully. You can also make a delicious raw tomato sauce with cherry tomatoes. Whatever type of tomato you choose, give them a quick taste to be sure they’re sweet, juicy and delicious!
- Garlic: Use a small clove and chop it very finely or grate on a rasp grater. Since the garlic isn’t cooked it packs a punch. A little dab will do ya!
- Fresh basil leaves: Tear them or slice into ribbons. Parsley, fresh marjoram or oregano taste different but will work as well.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Absolutely use a good everyday oil, or better yet a bottle you keep for drizzling as a finishing oil.
About Fresh Tomato Sauce:
ORIGIN: Italy: Southern Italian regions like Rome and Naples.
ALSO KNOWN AS: Alla Checca, Salsa Fresca, Pasta Fredda
COOK TIME None.
HOW TO STORE: Room temperature up to 3 hours and refrigerated 1-2 days.
How to make fresh tomato sauce, step by step
Pure tomato flavors shine in this sauce, with the sweet chopped tomatoes, olive oil, and basil. It’s perfect served as a summer pasta with tomatoes!
- Once the sauce is combined, choose to let the ingredients mingle and marinate for an hour or two, or serve it right away.
- To make ahead, keep refrigerated 1-2 days. Toss with pasta just before serving.
Ideas for serving fresh tomato sauce:
- Fresh tomato sauce is good with linguine, spaghetti, penne — really any pasta shape you enjoy.
- Use the sauce as topping for grilled bread, pizza crust or flatbread, eggplant, fish or chicken — use a slotted spoon to drain excess liquid.
- Choose a variety of colorful tomatoes for a beautiful, vibrant sauce.
- Add torn fresh mozzarella cheese, burrata cheese or feta cheese.
- Sprinkle with chili flakes or chopped fresh chili if you enjoy a hit of heat.
No-Cook Fresh Tomato Sauce
- 1½-2 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes
- 1 small garlic clove
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces or sliced into ribbons
- Slice the tomatoes into ½-inch chunks. If you're using cherry tomatoes, slice them in half. Put the tomatoes in a large bowl.
- Grate the garlic clove over the tomatoes. If you don't have a rasp grater, chop the garlic very finely with a chef's knife.
- Pour the olive oil over the tomatoes and sprinkle with the salt. Stir to combine and then add the basil.
- Add hot cooked pasta to the bowl and toss. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- This recipe makes enough sauce for 1/2 pound of pasta, and it can easily be doubled or tripled.
- The sauce can sit at room temperature up to 3 hours. Toss it with cooked pasta just before serving.
- If you don’t have basil, use a fresh green herb such as parsley, marjoram or even baby arugula.
- Add fresh feta cheese, torn fresh mozzarella or other soft cheese to the pasta.
- Fresh tomato sauce will keep 1-2 days refrigerated. Drain off any accumulated liquid if using as topping for pizza or bruschetta.