No-Cook Tomato Sauce with Chiles

Written by Danielle Oteri

No-cook tomato sauce made from chopped tomatoes, crushed garlic, olive oil, and fresh basil is simply the easiest and most elegant dish for a late summer evening.

Truly, this is something that you can only enjoy in these parts for two to three weeks of the entire year. But when tomatoes and basil are in season, you almost owe it to them to prepare a dish that lets their freshness shine.

I’ve done this sauce with beefsteak tomatoes, plums and heirlooms. Surprisingly, heirlooms are too sour for the sauce, and beefsteaks are too, um…beefy!

angel hair with no-cook tomato sauce
Photo: Casey Barber

However, plum and cherry tomatoes are just perfect. I just kissed the tips of my fingers.

That said, this no-cook tomato sauce is something I’ve made at least a dozen times. But as I contemplated what to do with the nearly 30 tomatoes I received in this week’s CSA, I decided to try something new.

I wanted to push the sauce beyond mild and sweet and instead make it bold and hot. The answer was right under my nose…

angel hair with cherry tomato sauce
Photo: Casey Barber

Yes! Chile peppers also arrived fresh from the farm this week and became the perfect tweak.

These were relatively high on the heat scale and it’s smart to wear a pair of latex gloves when cleaning any hot pepper.

angel hair with no-cook cherry tomato sauce
Photo: Casey Barber

Only having yellow rubber scrubbing gloves, I instead rubbed a little olive oil on my hands, which was also a reminder and good deterrent not to touch my face. Make sure you wash your hands well afterward.

Celery leaves were a last minute addition. I’ve seen them included in raw tomato sauce in Italy (where they love their bitter greens), but I’ve never before tried them.

angel hair with no-cook tomato sauce
Photo: Casey Barber

Fortunately for me, I also received celery from the farm and I was able to “Ask Casey” how I could best store it for a few days until my tomatoes were fully ripe. (Organic celery often turns into an inedible rubbery mess within 24 hours.)

“Mummify your celery with aluminum foil, it stays fresh for WEEKS. Months, possibly,” she replied.

Brilliant, huh? I never would have known.

no-cook tomato sauce
No-Cook Tomato Sauce

No-Cook Tomato Sauce

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes

No-cook tomato sauce with olive oil, chiles, and basil is simply the easiest dish when summer tomatoes are in season.


  • 1 red serrano or jalapeno pepper
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 handful large basil leaves
  • 1 handful celery leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more to taste
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta


  1. Remove the ribs and seeds from the chile pepper (using latex gloves so the capascin doesn't remain on your fingers) and place in a large bowl.
  2. Dice all the tomatoes and add to the bowl.
  3. Mince the garlic and coarsely chop the basil and celery leaves, and add to the bowl.
  4. Stir in the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Let the mixture sit for at least 2 hours at room temperature.
  5. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then stir in 1 tablespoon kosher salt and the angel hair. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, just until al dente.
  6. While the water comes to a boil, taste the tomatoes and add more salt and pepper if desired.
  7. Remove the pasta from water with tongs and add to the sauce. (A bit of the pasta water will help the sauce blend and stick to your strands.)
  8. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 213Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 193mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 5g

The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.

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  1. I never make a pasta sauce without some pepper flakes or hot peppers. This is right up my alley.

  2. Fabulous – and so easy. And not only did I get a great recipe out of this post, I got an answer about how to store my organic celery…

  3. Lovely! Those tomatoes look so darn great! There is simply no better tomato or corn than from Jersey! Amen.

    I love the idea of rubbing oil on your hands before cutting peppers. I NEVER thought of that! Ingenious!

  4. I’ve never used celery leaves before in dishes–love the idea of putting them in the sauce. I’m a serrano chile fiend so I’m going to have to give this a try versus tossing in a little cayenne pepper. I add heat to most of my sauces–alfredo, ragu, red, always a little cayenne.

  5. This is fantastic. I love fresno peppers or serranos in sauce. They are bother great candidates depending on which heat level you’re looking for.


  6. George Clooney, Lake Como, summer tomatoes. Who can argue against that combo?

    Been such a sad tomato season this year, I’m reluctant to do anything but Caprese salads with the rare good ones, but this dish does sound like a winner.

  7. I LOVE celery leaves and often cook them up. I’ve not tried them in a raw recipe though. I’ll definitely be giving this a go when we get fresh tomatoes out of the garden this year. Right now, the tomato plants are wee things in the greenhouse.

  8. Great-looking recipe. Coming from the Southwest, I want to second the warning about gloves and not touching your eyes while working with hot chile peppers. I’ve goofed and ended up crying more than once.

  9. This is just the kind of pasta sauce I love to make. I will try it next week! (We’ve got our menus planned for this week already.)

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