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Cooking Hacks

This Grated Tomato Pasta Recipe Is Like a Trip to Sicily in a Bowl — Fresh + Easy in 30 Minutes

Learn the best way to grate your fresh tomatoes

Dreaming of an Italian vacation filled with plates of delicious pasta? Me too! The next best thing is re-creating those restaurant-quality dishes at home, but that can be intimidating (and expensive). Well, it’s time to use your box grater in a whole new way: grated tomato pasta. This dish is bursting with fresh, authentic flavors. But the best part? You can whip it up in just 30 minutes. No fancy ingredients, no complicated steps – just pure Sicilian-style goodness in every bite. Plus, learn why fresh tomatoes are best as well as how to properly grate them. Here’s your guide to grated tomato pasta.

What is grated tomato pasta?

Grated tomato pasta, also known as Spaghetti Alla Carrettiera, is a traditional Italian dish that hails from Sicily. “Carrettiera” translates to “cart drivers spaghetti,” reflecting its humble origins as a simple meal for workers. The key element? Fresh, raw tomatoes grated into a sauce with garlic, oil and herbs. This technique releases the juices while leaving it chunky. It also helps create a light, uncooked sauce that clings to the pasta.

Want another way to use fresh tomato? Try our Sun Dried Tomato Pesto!

How to make authentic grated tomato pasta

Unlike other pasta dishes, this one is super simple. But that doesn’t mean a few key techniques can make all the difference.

1. Grate your tomatoes

Use the largest holes on a box grater to grate the tomatoes. Cut them in half and grate the cut side until only the skin remains. This method ensures a smooth, pulp-like consistency.

2. Use high-quality ingredients

Since this dish relies on a few simple ingredients, their quality is important. Use the ripest tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and freshly minced garlic.

Want to grow your own fresh tomatoes? Learn how to plant them.

3. Season generously

Fresh tomatoes can be quite delicate in flavor. So, season the sauce well with salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.

4. Combining your pasta

Cook the spaghetti until al dente, then immediately toss it with the pasta water into the tomato sauce and stir vigorously. The heat from the pasta will slightly warm the raw tomato without cooking it, preserving its fresh flavor.

Sicilian-style grated tomato pasta recipe

grated tomato pasta with basil and fork in white bowl against white background

You’ll love how simple this recipe is from Serious Eats. It also includes toasted breadcrumbs, which help thicken the sauce.


  • 1¼ lbs. plum tomatoes, about 5
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling, if needed
  • ¼ cup loosely packed, roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 large pinch red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. dried spaghetti
  • ½ cup lightly toasted panko breadcrumbs, divided
  • Grated Sicilian Pecorino or ricotta salata, for serving (optional)


  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  1. Firstly, grate tomatoes with a box grater into a large serving bowl. Then, add olive oil, basil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir well and season with salt to taste. Then, set aside.
  2. In a pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook spaghetti, stirring frequently, until al dente. When pasta has almost finished cooking, transfer ¼ cup pasta water to tomato mixture and whisk to form an emulsion.
  3. Using tongs, transfer pasta to tomato mixture along with an additional 1/4 cup pasta cooking water. Vigorously toss and stir pasta to emulsify sauce and coat noodles. Then, add half of the breadcrumbs and toss to combine. If dry, add extra pasta water and olive oil, 1 Tbs. at a time. Taste for seasoning.
  4. Transfer pasta to warmed plates and sprinkle with remaining breadcrumbs. Finally, top with cheese, if desired and serve immediately.

Storage instructions:

This pasta is best served and enjoyed immediately. It does not store well because of the raw tomato.

Enjoy our other hearty pasta dishes below:

This Creamy Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe Uses Cottage Cheese for a High-Protein Upgrade

French Onion Pasta Is Pure Comfort on a Plate — One-Pot Recipe Is Fast + Delicious

Italian Meets Korean in This Viral Gochujang Pasta Recipe That’s Creamy, Spicy + Ready in 15 Minutes

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