Spaghetti alla Checca

Spaghetti with Uncooked Tomato Sauce

I make this traditional Tuscan pasta at least once a year (and two or three times more if my son, now grown, is home). The success of the dish depends on full-flavored tomatoes as well as the fruitiest, highest-quality olive oil you can afford. Save your crop of cherry tomatoes and pick Early Girls for this sauce.

This recipe is a great way to introduce kids to fresh-from-the-garden food. You don't have to dig up half the lawn — or even have a lawn. All you need is a sunny spot, some deep pots, and a few bags of soil.

Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 8 1/2 hours
Yield: 4-6 servings


    6-8 tomatoes
    4 large garlic cloves
    10 large basil leaves
    2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    Salt and pepper to taste
    1 pound spaghetti
    Grated Parmesan (optional)


  1. Start the dish in the morning on the day you plan to eat it for dinner. Core the tomatoes and peel them with a sharp paring knife. (If the skins don't loosen easily, leave them on. Plunging the tomatoes in boiling water will dull their flavor.) Chop the tomatoes coarsely and put them in a nonmetallic bowl. Smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of a large knife and add them to the tomatoes along with the basil. Stir in the olive oil, coating the tomatoes well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature for 8 hours.
  2. At suppertime, season the tomatoes with salt and pepper and remove the garlic. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti, cook it according to the directions on the package, and drain it in a colander. Divide it among bowls, and ladle tomato sauce over each one. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan, if desired.

What's Good for You
Summer-ripe tomatoes are loaded with vitamin C, the essential stuff for tissue growth and repair.

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