When the summer heat becomes unbearable, here is a fragrant, fresh pasta dish. It’s a Neapolitan classic and is an example of Italy’s tradition of delicious uncooked summer sauces. Spaghetti alla Checca, one of our favorites, is a barely scalded medley of fresh tomatoes and herbs. The flavor evokes images of the Amalfi coast, where, in season, roadside stands sell sandwiches of fresh San Marzano tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella, basil and olive oil.
This is a sauce for which you either harvest your own well loved tomatoes or purchase them from a local farmers market. No watery, flavorless tomatoes will do here.
For the ultimate rendition, use very well drained buffalo mozzarella, which adds a creamy richness to this refreshing dish.
Watch a video of Giuliano Hazan preparing Spaghetti alla Checca on the TODAY show.
Giuliano was named Cooking Teacher of the Year in 2007 be the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Recently, we have opened our home to intimate hands on interactive classes. If you are in the area we would love to have you join us, at one of our hands-on classes in Sarasota.
Spaghetti with Raw Tomatoes, Herbs and Mozzarella
(From Giuliano Hazan’s Thirty Minute Pasta by Giuliano Hazan)
Serves 4 people
2 pounds fresh plum (or Roma) tomatoes
8 ounces fresh whole milk mozzarella
1 pound spaghetti
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6-8 fresh basil leaves
4-5 sprigs fresh oregano
3-4 springs fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
2. Peel the tomatoes, remove the seeds, and cut into small 1/4” dice. Put the tomatoes in the serving bowl you’ll be serving the pasta in.
3. Add about 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling pasta water, put in the spaghetti, and stir until all the strands are submerged. Cook until very al dente (about 30 seconds less than you normally would).
4. While the pasta is cooking, put the olive oil in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Heat until the oil begins to smoke then remove from the heat.
5. While the oil is heating, cut the mozzarella into small 1/4” dice. Coarsely chop the basil. Chop enough oregano to a medium fine consistency to measure about 4 teaspoons. Finely chop enough thyme to measure about 1 teaspoon. Add the herbs to the bowl with the tomatoes and season well with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, pour it into the bowl and mix thoroughly.
6. When the pasta is done, drain well, and toss it with the ingredients in the serving bowl. Add the mozzarella, toss again, then cover the bowl and let stand for about a minute to allow the cheese to melt a bit. Uncover the bowl, toss one last time, and serve at once.