I made this the other night when my kitchen was too hot to turn on the oven. This recipe is a keeper, my husband loved it! I used a medley of heirloom tomatoes and added some Greek olives as in your suggestions. The result was a flavorful, fresh, delicious dish. ~Carla
Pasta alla checca (cake-ah) is such an amazing recipe. Yes the flavors have been combined before…ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, olive oil…it’s a time honored formula. But, as with so many recipes, it’s all in the way you combine them! This raw sauce hits the spot on a hot night like nothing else.
For checca I break out the best extra virgin oil that I
hoard hide store at the back of the cupboard, and a box of spaghetti. Skip the angel hair, please! Even though you often see this dish made with it, I think it’s too fine and becomes a mushy lump no matter how carefully you cook it. Regular spaghetti works perfectly.
I like to cut the tomatoes first, before I even start the pasta water boiling. This way the juices have time to get flowing.
TIP: The more fresh tomato juice you can coax out of your tomatoes the better…along with olive oil and garlic it becomes a light sauce that trickles down the strands of the warm pasta and makes a heavenly meal.
A little raw garlic is part of the charm of a checca sauce, but don’t add too much. And be sure to finely mince it. I like to add it to the tomatoes as they sweat it out on the counter so it has a chance to mellow and mingle.
Note: The recipe instructions say to toss the pasta with the tomatoes, etc. But you can also put the pasta in a bowl or bowls and just top with the sauce, it’s up to you. This makes a nice presentation if you’re serving to guests.
TIP: If you’re entertaining, pair Pasta Alla Checca with a loaf of crusty garlic bread, salad, and a light pinot grigio or rosé wine.
more fresh tomato recipes to try
There are so many ways to use raw tomatoes when they’re at their peak. I love to make bruschetta, for instance, which is a lot like this checca sauce. You’ll finely dice fresh tomatoes and let them sit to allow the juices to release, then instead of adding them to pasta, you’ll pile them on grilled bread. So good!
Another raw tomato recipe is my Farmer’s Market Hummus ~ I like to use cherry tomatoes for this one, but the concept is the same…chop them up and encourage the juices to mingle with the creamy hummus. Yum!
And of course the mother of all raw tomato dishes is the versatile Caprese Salad. These refreshing recipes take the sting out of scorching temps, I hope you try them all, and stay cool 🙂
pasta alla checca variations
- Mozzarella: Add some diced fresh mozzarella or torn mozzarella balls to the dish. The creamy and slightly salty cheese will melt slightly from the heat of the pasta, so good!
- Olives: Toss in some pitted and sliced Kalamata olives to give the dish a briny and savory note. They add a pleasant contrast to the sweetness of the tomatoes.
- Red Pepper Flakes: If you enjoy a bit of heat, sprinkle some red pepper flakes over the pasta before serving. This will add a spicy kick and enhance the flavors of the other ingredients.
- Capers: Add a tablespoon or two of capers to the pasta for a burst of tanginess. The capers pair well with the tomatoes and basil, and their unique flavor adds a nice touch.
- Pine Nuts: Toast some pine nuts in a dry pan until golden brown and sprinkle them over the finished dish. The nuts will bring a delightful crunch and nutty flavor to the pasta.
- Fresh Spinach: Sauté a handful of fresh spinach leaves and toss them in with the pasta. The wilted spinach will add some extra greenery and a mild earthy taste to the dish.
Pasta Alla Checca
- grated Parmesan cheese
- basil leaves
- Add the garlic and 1/4 cup olive oil to the tomatoes and let sit, loosely covered, on the counter. You can add a splash of balsamic vinegar for extra flavor, if you like.
- Cook the pasta in plenty of well salted water just to the al dente stage, don't over cook. Drain and drizzle with a little more olive oil.
- Toss the pasta with the tomato mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more olive oil if desired.
- Serve immediately, garnished with grated Parmesan and basil leaves.