Classic Pesto Pasta Salad recipe
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Pasta never goes out of season, but with tomatoes at their peak, the dog days of summer are an ideal time to prepare a raw sauce from scratch. While the canned stuff is a-OK (particularly top quality San Marzanos), enjoying the fruit from your home garden or purchased from a local farmers’ market at its full fresh flavor potential can’t be beat.   

Beyond the phenomenal taste, a sauce that uses tomatoes and other seasonal produce au natural has plenty of benefits.

Along with being less labor-intensive in both prep and clean-up, there are also health benefits that come with eating raw. You won’t lose any vitamins or nutrients, which can happen in the cooking process.

Proponents of eating raw commonly report improvement in the health of their skin, hair and energy levels. (While not scientifically proven, it’s definitely one of those may-help-won’t-hurt situations.)

Take advantage of a few of our favorite no-cook pasta sauces (though, yes, you will obviously have to cook the pasta).

Related Reading: The Best No-Cook Recipes to Survive a Heatwave

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Fresh Tomato Sauce

no-cook tomato pasta sauce recipe


When tomatoes are plentiful and at their juiciest, there’s no need to get fussy. Serve ‘em up fresh and enjoy their natural sweetness. Raw garlic adds bite, fresh oregano and parsley provide earthiness, but watch out ‘cuz here comes chèvre with that creaminess. Get our Fresh Tomato Sauce recipe.

Easy Basil Pesto

Classic Pesto Pasta Salad recipe

Chowhound’s Pesto Pasta Salad

When you think of no-cook pasta sauce, pesto is likely the first that comes to mind. Not only is it simple to prepare (basil, salt, garlic, parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil drizzle, pulse) and packed with flavor and fragrance, it’s also extremely versatile. Use it as a marinade. Spoon it as a condiment over grilled or roasted meats. Dress up your salad. Toss it with veggies both cooked and raw. And as an added bonus, it freezes extremely well so go ahead and whip up a large batch. Get our Easy Basil Pesto recipe.

Watercress-Walnut Pesto

spinach pesto recipe for pasta


Go a slightly less traditional route with your pesto and swap out basil for watercress and pricey pine nuts for walnuts. An addition of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a touch of balsamic offer a vibrant tang. The results will be just as delicious and a refreshing change of pace from the same-old, same-old. Get our Watercress-Walnut Pesto recipe.

Heirloom Tomato-Basil Sauce with Olives and Feta

Olives and feta cheese bring briny deliciousness to this tomato and basil-heavy sauce. As a bonus, it’s make-ahead-friendly. Let the ingredients blend for several hours to meld them together in delicious harmony. Get our Heirloom Tomato-Basil Sauce with Olives and Feta recipe.

Related Reading: The Best Way to Harvest Basil Ensures It Keeps Growing All Summer

Pistachio Sauce


This Sicilian-inspired sauce showcases the island’s signature nut in all its glory. While the pistachios are traditionally processed into a paste, with this simple recipe, the brainchild of The Franks behind New York’s Frankies Spnutino Group, you don’t have to go to all that trouble. Just chop them coarsely, season with garlic, parmesan, and mint leaves for a sauce that’s equal parts bright and fresh as it is savory and hearty. Get the Pistachio Sauce recipe.

No-Cook Puttanesca

Enjoy this no-cook spin on the classic potent puttanesca. Packed with anchovies, parmesan, olives, capers, tomatoes, and peppers there’s certainly no shortage of flavor. If you have an Instant Pot, you can skip a hot stove altogether. Pressure cook your fusilli in a matter of minutes, and chop your sauce ingredients while you wait. Get the No-Cook Puttanesca recipe.

Related Reading: This Weeknight Pantry Chicken Puttanesca Is Ready in 45 Minutes

Avocado Pasta Sauce

Avocado makes almost everything better, and paired with basil, garlic, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon it results in a delicately creamy, healthy sauce for your spaghetti. (You’ll need a food processor to fully incorporate the ingredients together.) Top with cherry tomatoes and corn for texture, color and a hint of sweetness. Get the Avocado Pasta Sauce recipe.

Related Video: 5 Pasta Shapes You’ve Probably Never Seen


David is a food and culture writer based in Los Angeles by way of New York City. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, CBS Local, Mashable, and Gawker.
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