A Must-Make No-Cook Tomato Sauce

It’s been 2,548 days.

I feel like I’m going through the motions, waking up, going to work, taking care of the girls, all the while accepting the reality that next week will be seven years, 2557 days, since he’s been gone.

I wondered the other night, had we known this time in 2011 that he had just nine days left alive, would we have done anything differently. Would he have done anything differently. Would he have thrown all caution to the wind, gotten on a plane, and gone somewhere with us.

The suddenness of it all still haunts me, and dictates my everyday life. I struggle with the insecurity of not having enough time to do what I want most, and be with the people I love. I get easily frustrated and withdrawn when people don’t seem to go the extra mile, thinking to myself “this could be the last chance we have to…(insert what you like here)”.

That’s the extra layer of the grief I carry.

For our girls, they still cling to worry when I leave if I’ll come home safely, alive. I don’t know how, or if that ever goes away. My hope has always been that as they gather more positive life experiences maybe one day they’ll overshadow their great loss, or at least give them confidence and security in life itself.

I don’t remember the last meal I cooked for him that Sunday morning. How can I not remember something so important? Then I remind myself it was just supposed to be another Sunday, not the last Sunday ever.

But I do remember the last dinner we had. It was hot that Saturday evening, and he’d not been feeling well. We thought it was just a summer cold. Fatigue had hit him out of nowhere. I came home from the Grand Army Plaza farmers’ market to find him curled up with the girls on the sofa in his white Hane’s t-shirt, and black sweatpants.

We spent the rest of the day snuggled together, the four of us, watching television. Isabella was deep into her Marx Brothers phase, and as luck would have it the I Love Lucy episode with Harpo Marx aired that day.

Michael seemed to liven up come dinnertime, and had an appetite, so I opted for an easy meal that wouldn’t involve a lot of clean up. A mash up of pasta and caprese salad is one of my favorite summer meals. It took a few years before I could eat it again. Last week I made it, but opted to leave out the mozzarella, and I changed up the pasta. When I made it for Michael on August 6, 2011 I used campanelle, a flowery, bell-shaped pasta.

This time I used spaghetti, and tossed the cooked pasta with butter first for an extra silky texture once combined with the raw tomatoes. The tomatoes get chopped, salted, and mixed with basil and olive oil. You should do this at least 30 minutes before tossing with the hot pasta. Doing so allows water to be drawn from the tomatoes, creating a thin sauce that thickens with the starch from the pasta. The butter I mentioned adds just a touch of richness. Be sure to dip a measuring cup in the pot, and scoop out some water before you drain the pasta. The water will come in handy if you want to thin out the sauce.

The measurements are negotiable here, and most definitely based on how much sauce you want, and how much pasta you’re serving. I wouldn’t let any of it stress you out. Just chop the tomatoes, add them to a deep bowl, and mix with salt, pepper, basil, and olive oil. Feel free to mix up the herbs, even chop a chili pepper, add chili flakes, or toss in finely cubed mozzarella.

Once the hot pasta hits the bowl, the tomatoes slump, collapsing from the residual heat of the hot pasta, forming a rustic sauce.  I love the dish most when it’s hot, but you can also let it cool, and store in the fridge for a cold pasta salad of sorts.

Nine Years Ago: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes, Zucchini Parmesan Hummus
Eight Years Ago: Zucchini Coffee Cake, DIY Cold Brewed Coffee, Cherry Lime Biscuit Muffins
Seven Years Ago: Milk-Braised Zucchini, Homemade Nut-Free Nutella, 20-Minute Marinara Sauce
Six Years Ago: Rustic Lemon Cake
Five Years Ago: Blackberry Old Fashioned, Raspberry & Chocolate Mint S’mores
Four Years Ago: Cantaloupe & Lillet Sparkler, Sweet Corn Ice Cream, Mixed Berry Muffins
Three Years Ago: Basil Pistachio Pesto, Raspberry Sorbet, Sour Cherry Jam
Two Years Ago: Chickpea & Fennel Tartine, Cherry Cashew Milk, Sweet Cherry Coffee Cake
One Year Ago: Summer Peach Cake, Penne Primavera, Sweet Summer Corn Soup, Roasted Peach Scones, The BEST Chocolate Cake Ever, Chocolate Cherry Banana Bread


  • jamie

    sending love to you – keep on keeping on.
    this looks lovely…is there supposed to be a recipe or amounts?

  • Michelle

    Oh how I wish i could help your through the grief. I remember a quote I read after my husband died in January. It said “I was supposed to live the rest of my life with you, but you lived the rest of your life with me” I cried so hard when I read that. I never dreamed he would go before me because he was so healthy.

    I watched for 10 months as my husband died from a glio-blastoma brain tumor. The doctor’s gave him 16 months but he only lived in 10 months. It was a horrible thing to watch as lost his ability to do everything because of where the tumor was.

    It was not easy to watch for months and it would not be easy to have your husband walk out the door and not come back. The loss is horrible for both of us.

    I have been going to grief counseling with a friend for the last few months but everyone has a sad story to. I know one person whose wife died years ago and even though he remarried and lost the second wife he grieves for both still. He read a letter he wrote to his first wife after she passed and it was heartbreaking.

    There are just no words to help with the grief. In counseling they said we should write our feelings down but I am just not ready to do that yet. Not sure I can.

    Grief takes as long as it takes for each of us. There is no timeline. I think of you so often.

  • Jeanne

    Jennie, You touch my heart every time I read a post about Michael. I was a fan of your blog back then and my heart broke for you and your girls. Little did I know a few years later, 2015, I would lose my son, my only child, suddenly after an emergency open heart surgery. As Michelle said in her post, there are no words to describe the grief. To think that your whole world can change in a few hours can take your breath away. Your girls are so blessed to have such a wonderful mother to guide them. My prayers are always with you!