Tonight’s Dinner: Pasta alla checca

Pasta with tomato sauce is always delicious but using fresh ingredients like tomatoes, garlic and basil make for a lighter sauce that’s perfect no matter what time of year.

Pasta with a nice thick tomato sauce is one of my favorite dishes. It’s easy and always delicious. But sometimes that tomato sauce is a little too thick and rich for even me. It’s on these occasions that I prefer pasta alla checca. What’s the difference? One cooks on a stove for a couple hours creating a thick and hearty sauce and the other sautés for about five minutes making a light topping that tastes like the tomatoes were just picked off the vine.

What’s even better about the sautéed version is since the tomatoes need to be squashed up and marinated, it makes for the perfect activity for little hands. We all know how much those little hands like to be useful and nothing works better than 10 minutes of squishing tomatoes. It’s so much fun; it’s a wonderful introduction to cooking, and the result is a scrumptious meal the whole family will enjoy.

Pasta alla checca


  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (16 ounce) package angel hair pasta
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated


  1. In a large bowl tear apart the tomatoes with your hands. Add the garlic, basil, two tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to combine. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to four.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.
  3. While the pasta cooks, heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer the tomato mixture to the skillet and sauté for three to five minutes or until the tomatoes are softened and the basil is slightly wilted. Pour the tomato mixture over the pasta. Add the Parmesan cheese, toss to combine and serve immediately with your favorite crusty bread.

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