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Chef and author Dominique Rizzo shares her recipe for tomato and saffron pasta salad, based on her nonna’s cooking. My nonna was a very modest woman who had the most beautiful skin. I loved spending time with her, and even though she only spoke the Sicilian dialect and I could hardly understand what she was saying, we always managed to have lengthy conversations. This full-flavoured pasta salad was one of her special dishes.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (15 votes)


  • 1 kg very ripe roma (plum) or vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 large pinch of saffron threads
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) olive oil
  • 3 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, torn
  • 10 basil leaves, torn
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 250 g spaghetti or short pasta (such as orecchiette, trofie or conchiglie)
  • grated parmesan (optional), to serve


  • ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil
  • 1 cup (70 g) fine breadcrumbs, from day-old Italian bread (such as ciabatta or pasta dura)
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


For the pangrattato, heat the olive oil in small frying pan over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the breadcrumbs and stir for 2 minutes, or until golden. Stir through the parsley. Set aside.

Remove and discard the eye of the tomatoes, then finely dice, keeping as much of the juice and seeds as possible.

Transfer the tomatoes to a bowl, then add the garlic, saffron, olive oil, parsley and basil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic film and leave the sauce in the fridge for at least 1 hour to allow the flavours to develop (you can prepare this 4–5 hours in advance if you like).

Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted boiling water until al dente, following the packet instructions.

Drain the pasta and transfer to a serving bowl. Pour over the tomato saffron sauce, mix well and sprinkle with pangrattato and parmesan, if using.

Serve warm or at room temperature.