Salt & Wind Travel

(Pasta Alla Checca) No Cook Heirloom Tomato Pasta

There is nothing that transports us to Italy faster than the vibrant flavor of a well-made heirloom tomato pasta recipe like pasta alla checca. So simple, but so delicious it is the original no-cook heirloom tomato sauce and the combo of fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced garlic, and extra virgin olive oil create a brag-worthy sauce made sublime by the addition of creamy burrata cheese. 

I initially had pasta alla checca on my first-ever trip to Italy decades ago. Though I was not yet cooking, I immediately fell in love with the fresh flavors. Once I lived in Italy, I came to appreciate in-season, quality heirloom tomatoes and started making a version of this sauce. But, I didn’t ever share the dish until I published my cookbook, Keys To The Kitchen, and it’s now one of my favorite summer pastas. 

Heirloom Tomato Pasta Sauce Recipe

What Is Pasta Alla Checca?

A traditional Italian pasta dish that comes from Romepasta alla checca (pronounced “kheh-kah”) is a recipe often served during warmer weather when people are eating alfresco with abandon and the heirloom tomatoes are available by the bushel. 

At its simplest, pasta alla checca is a no-cook pasta sauce made by combining a few key ingredients: fresh tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, and olive oil. The best versions of this pasta have top quality ingredients and they’re all full of flavor so it tastes almost like an amazing Caprese salad got tossed together with pasta.

But too often it’s flavorless because it’s made with not great tomatoes, doesn’t have enough sauce for the homemade pasta dough recipe, or is just not seasoned well. We set out to right all those wrongs with this recipe.

Tips For Amazing Heirloom Tomato Sauce

The key to this no-cook heirloom tomato pasta sauce is restraint. As in you only want to make it when you have ah-mazing tomatoes. Then you let the tomatoes really, really marinate so their flavor is maximized. And finally it’s all topped off with some super fresh cheese, like a really awesome burrata cheese.

Get Great Heirloom Tomatoes

Top-quality tomatoes take this dish from good to great so buy ones that are fresh, ripe, and in season. When you cut the tomatoes, they’ll release juice. Instead of discarding it, add it to the sauce for extra flavor.

Don’t Over Marinate The Tomatoes

Yes, you can over-marinate the tomatoes. After about 3 hours, they start to break down into mush but the key to this dish is maintaining some of the fresh tomato consistency. So, resist the urge to make this too far ahead of time!

Use A Short Ridged Shape

These days you’ll see pasta alla checca served with angel hair (aka capellini pasta) but that’s a mismatch in our opinion. This dish works well with any short pasta that clings to the delicate sauce without overwhelming in be it some penne rigate, gemelli, casarecce, or fusilli.

Drain Off The Brine From The Cheese  

Burrata is part cream, part mozzarella cheese that’s pure indulgence. If you can’t find it, quality buffalo mozzarella will work well.

Serve It Warm Or at Room Temperature

Some recipes make this into a pasta salad and have you mix the sauce with cold pasta but we really think that’s a disservice. However, it’s not usually served piping hot as that would melt the cheese. Instead we suggest you serve it warm or room temperature so all the flavors come through.

Or Serve It As Bruschetta

Confession: the tomato mixture doubles as a bruschetta topping! Simply spoon over toasted country bread, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and serve.

Variations On This No-Cook Tomato Sauce

This pasta alla checca recipe is delicious as is but is ripe for variations. Here are a few way non-traditional ways we like to mix it up:

  • Grill some summer vegetables like zucchini and add them in.
  • Use a tangy cheese like goat cheese or crumbled feta in place of the burrata.
  • Add chopped capers, tapenade, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, or anchovies when you add the basil.
  • Stir in a few spoonfuls of our pesto for a chunky crossover sauce.

Go stock up on all your pasta essentials then share your creation with us by tagging @saltandwind and #swsociety on social!

Burrata Heirloom Tomato Sauce Pasta With Wine

{Pasta Alla Checca} No-Cook Heirloom Tomato Burrata Pasta Recipe

A twist on the classic Italian dish, Pasta Alla Checca, this version is made witih a no-cook heirloom tomato sauce, herebs, chili flakes, and topped with fresh burrata cheese.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 464 kcal


1 Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls glass, stainless steel, or ceramic
Stock Pot
1 12-quart Stock Pot at least 7-to-8 quarts


For The No-Cook Tomato Sauce

  • 3 pounds heirloom tomatoes medium dice, juice reserved
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for garnish
  • 2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 red pepper flakes plus more for garnish
  • 15 large fresh basil leaves plus more for garnish

For The Pasta

  • 1 pound pasta such as rigatoni, campanelle, conchiglie, or orecchiette
  • 2 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley leaves finely chopped
  • 12 ounces burrata cheese torn into 4 to 6 pieces
  • pinch Sea salt for garnish


  • Make The No Cook Tomato Sauce: Combine the diced tomatoes, reserved tomato juice, oil, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes (use 1 1/2 teaspoons if you don’t like spicy and up to 3 teaspoons if you do) in a large nonreactive bowl.
    Stir gently to coat well, and let sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours before serving. When the tomatoes are ready, tear the basil leaves into bite-sized pieces and stir into the tomato mixture. 
    3 pounds heirloom tomatoes, 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 15 large fresh basil leaves
  • Boil The Pasta: Meanwhile, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and cook according to the package directions. (If the tomatoes have not let off a lot of juice, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining.)
    1 pound pasta
  • Serve The Pasta: Toss the pasta with the reserved pasta cooking water (as needed) and parsley and stir to mix. Add the tomato mixture, and stir to combine. (If using mozzarella, stir it in here.) Taste and season with salt and additional pepper flakes, as desired.
    2 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • Divide the pasta into individual bowls, top each with some of the burrata cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of salt, and serve.
    12 ounces burrata cheese, pinch Sea salt



Calories: 464kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 19gFat: 40gSaturated Fat: 15gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 1723mgPotassium: 1170mgFiber: 6gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 4242IUVitamin C: 58mgCalcium: 511mgIron: 2mg
Keyword summer pasta, traditional italian pasta, vegetarian pasta
Tried this recipe?Mention @saltandwind or tag #swsociety!

Travel Planning Resources

This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to our privacy policy.

About The Author
5 from 3 votes (3 ratings without comment)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


We'll help you taste Italy Mexico California Hawaii Mexico France Spain the world

We specialize in food-focused experiences in the most interesting culinary regions of the world.

We host unique small group trips to California, Italy, and Mexico from Sicily to Oaxaca.

Our tailored-to-you trip planning services help you make the most of your trip.