Easy pasta alla checca is a healthy raw tomato sauce from Italy that’s a refreshing way to do pasta when the temperatures rise. Heat waves, record highs, sweltering nights…bring it! This delicious 30 minute meal can handle it all.
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.
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.
If you’re entertaining, pair Pasta Alla Checca with a loaf of crusty garlic bread, salad, and a light pinot grigio or rosé wine.
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
- 3-4 cups chopped ripe tomatoes, more if you like
- 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for tossing the pasta.
- splash of balsamic or other vinegar, optional
- 1 lb spaghetti
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- 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.
Make it your own ~
- Make it with cherry or heirloom tomatoes.
- Make it with mozzarella ~ toss fresh chopped or pearl mozzarella into the pasta along with the tomatoes.
- Make it more flavorful ~ checca is a very mildly flavored sauce, if you want more pizazz, add olives, marinated artichoke hearts, toasted pine nuts, or even feta cheese.