After falling in love with Tucci's favorite zucchini spaghetti, we had to give this one a try, too!
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Stanley Tucci sitting outside with a table full of food and drinks — including a big bowl of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil — in front of him.
Credit: S.Pellegrino

When Stanley Tucci thinks of his favorite summer ingredients, he says, "Tomatoes and basil." Ask him about his favorite simple summer recipe, and unsurprisingly, those ingredients are center stage in a simple pasta dish. After the actor turned us on to "zucchini spaghetti" we trust him when it comes to delicious pasta recipes.

The tomatoes in this one are nice and cold, marinated with garlic and olive oil, and salted just before it gets tossed with some cooked pasta. "The hot pasta, in essence, sort of starts to cook the tomatoes in the bowl," Tucci says. "It's so simple. And you have the cold tomato and the hot pasta." Tucci stops to slap his hands together. "It's incredible."

This simple recipe goes back decades for Tucci. "I remember eating it with my parents when I was young and just loving it. They'd make it in the seventies and eighties. On a Sunday, in summer. Unbelievable." And then later in life, Tucci kept the recipe going. "I remember making it when I first moved to New York and I didn't have a lot of money. It was the perfect meal. And I had a girlfriend who loved it, too. So we used to make it all the time."

And while the meal itself stands perfectly on its own, Tucci made some recommendations to go alongside his two favorite summer ingredients. "Try a veal chop," he suggests, "or maybe some sea bass."

Stanley Tucci's Tomato & Basil Pasta Recipe

  • 3-4 plum or roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 8 ounces dried pasta
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 oz of crumbled goat cheese or ricotta cheese, optional
  • Lemon zest, optional
  1. Combine tomatoes, oil, garlic, and basil in a medium bowl and marinate in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  3. Salt the marinated tomatoes to taste, then toss with the cooked pasta.
  4. Serve topped with cheese and lemon zest, if desired.