Strozzapreti “Priest strangler” Primavera


It’s nice so far this August at food flavor fascination headquarters. Lots of stuff to do, but always trying to do things with a smile and that “keep calm, carry on” mentality. We had lots of smiles and laughter yesterday with my family at Del Mar for the horse racing. We’ve been going to the races at least once every season since we have been living in San Diego. I never win at gambling, but I just bet on the horses for fun and not over 10 dollars a race, LOL. It’s nice when someone in my family wins like my husband did. I think maybe a couple of others in our clan won too. But we always have a great time. Great weather, fun food (Gourmet Food truck Festival was on that day too!), and great company! Having an excuse to wear a fascinator hat is also a good thing for the ladies 🙂 “Easy breezy,” I think could sum up the day in two words. I’m not really talking about the Cover Girl motto, however. Just the experience of letting loose, especially with the weather and the nice breeze. Okay, I love being out in the breeze. Speaking of that and going with the theme, if you are looking for something “easy breezy” to cook, here’s is a dish for you:  strozzapreti primavera (no-cook tomato sauce).


At Del Mar, “where the turf meets the surf.” Horses are prepping for the race.


Some garden tomatoes picked not so long ago. Tomatoes are the star of the sauce, which is called a primavera. But, I like to think of it as a no-cook tomato pesto. Make sure to use ripe tomatoes or your sauce may be a shade of pink. I dip the tomatoes in boiling water for about a minute just to make it easier to peel, which results in a creamy sauce. You can peel it without the boiling water if you really don’t want to deal with the stove, but it is a bit more laborious.

I picked some fresh basil from my plant that I got at the store since they only had basil plants and no cut fresh basil. I like the plant, it’s doing pretty well out in the patio with some succulent friends and the occasional dog guards.


Another pesto ingredient, pignolies! Love these nuts. Sometimes I wish dogs can eat nuts, especially my dog Nutter. If he could, I know he would enjoy  them.


Parmesan goes into the sauce and it is blended with the fresh tomatoes, pine nuts, basil, garlic, salt & pepper and extra virgin olive oil. I like to use the Sicilian type one for this preparation. Some words of advice, this sauce will taste exponentially better if you use freshly grated parmesan that you have to refrigerate over the non-refrigerated canned variety. Some people call it “sawdust in a can.”


Mmmm…primavera/raw tomato pesto sauce. To me, this sauce is like a hybrid between the common green pesto genovese and a pomodoro sauce. It’s like having the best of both worlds:   a green pesto and a tomato sauce. It’s also similar to the tomato-based pesto alla siciliana. A creamy, silky,  fresh & herbaceous, tomato sauce. You can also easily make this sauce pistou style which excludes the cheese and nuts. I’m not sure why it’s called a primavera sauce as pasta primavera is commonly a pasta & fresh vegetable dish. I learned about this recipe from Gabriele Corcos & Debi Mazar on their cooking blog Under the Tuscan Gun as well as their TV show Extra Virgin.


I used Maestri brand strozzapreti that I got from an Italian market in Little Italy, which is in downtown San Diego. I chose that particular pasta with this sauce this time because of the grooves for the sauce to stick on to. To me, strozzapreti also is a hybrid between a long noodle-y pasta and a short cut extruded pasta. I get both experiences when I eat it:   long slurp, chew and the grooved texture of the shorter extruded shaped pasta. I’m sure there are variations on the length, especially if homemade, but they are usually about 3 inches long.  So I like the juxtaposition with the seemingly dual–natured strozzapreti and the also seemingly dual-natured raw tomato pesto/primavera sauce.


You can see the “S” shape that this pasta makes. I think that’s cool, but maybe because I’m nerdy for food. For more food nerdy-ness, read on.  Strozapretti is a funny pasta as well because of the myth surrounding its origins and name. In Italian, strozzare translates “to choke” and preti translates to “priest” so this pasta is named “priest strangler.” Why would this pasta be named as such? One legend is that it was first made for priests and that it was so delicious causing them to eat it so fast that they choked. Sinister story, but some how it makes me chuckle.


Easy Breezy Strozzapreti with Fresh Tomato Pesto

~4-6 Servings

Minimally adapted from Under the Tuscan Gun


  • ~6 ripe medium sized fresh tomatoes (or if you have larger tomatoes like I did, about 4 of them)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (and more for serving)
  • 1/3 cup pine (pignoli) nuts
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (+ more for drizzling/garnish)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound strozzapreti (or other pasta)
  • 1 generous handful fresh basil leaves (plus more for garnish)
  1. Peel tomatoes:  Boil water in a small pot. Cut an X on the bottom of each tomato. Using a fork or tongs, dip each tomato, one by one, in the boiling water for about a minute to loosen the skin. Using your fingers, peel off the skins of the tomatoes.
  2. Make sauce:  In a blender or food processor, blend together the peeled tomatoes, parmesan, salt & pepper, and basil. Blend until smooth. You may have to blend in two batches depending on the size of your blender. Cover the sauce and set aside.
  3. Cook your pasta according to package directions and drain. Add the pasta to the sauce, mixing well. Serve with fresh basil leaves, parmesan, and extra virgin olive oil and enjoy this spring/summer dish!


It’s eazy breezy strozzapreti!  Friends out there, what do you think of as something that’s “easy breezy”?

39 thoughts on “Strozzapreti “Priest strangler” Primavera

  1. Usually I’m not keen on raw food, excepting salads, but this – with home-grown toms – would be just great. I’m going to have to try this during the week as I’m able to get large toms on the vine, atm, that actually taste not bad for shop-bought. Can’t wait!
    – Loving the explanation of the pasta.

  2. I was just thinking of what to do with garden fresh tomatoes…you must have read my thoughts! Looks delicious! Once the tomato harvest comes in I could maybe make a larger batch and freeze some 🙂

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