Need a recipe that is healthy, tasty and takes 15 minutes to make? Try our go-to, Pasta alla Checca.
Tomato, basil, parmesan and garlic is the classic combination of flavors that makes up this savory pasta dish, and it always just feels like summer to us. The first time I remember making this was with ingredients harvested from a garden plot my roommates and I planted in an adjacent open lot to our rental house in California. That was about 30 years ago, and it’s still a regular visitor to our dinner table today.
The ruby red tomatoes and bright green basil, which we plucked from the garden just prior to making this simple dish, join with the garlic to perfume the whole kitchen during preparation.
Despite Pasta alla Checca’s status as a long-time fave, we had to go and tinker with it. Since we’re watching our carbs, we decided to mix it up and use “zoodles” instead of the traditional fettuccine or thin spaghetti.
Zoodles, if you don’t know, are zucchini cut with a spiral slicer to approximate noodles. It’s a decent pasta substitute that puts some veggies on your plate in place of carbs. And when they’re in the company of stellar flavors like basil and parmesan, how can they go wrong?
Making Zoodles alla Checca: It couldn’t be easier
One reason this dish is such a favorite is because it’s so easy to make. You will have to boil water, then dunk the zoodles in it for a few minutes, but that’s about it. The rest goes in a spacious pasta bowl and gets tossed with the other ingredients, along with salt and pepper to your taste, and dinner is served. We sometimes microwave the garlic in some of the olive oil for 30 seconds or so to tame the raw garlic flavor, but that’s your choice.
The new version of the dish still reminds me of that garden plot and the special friends I gardened and cooked with, and how it filled the kitchen with the same bright perfume of basil and garlic. As a standout side dish, or just as easily a delicious vegetarian main course, this dish will not disappoint.Print
Zoodles alla Checca
If you haven’t tried making zoodles (“noodles” made from zucchini), it’s an easy, healthy way to cut on carbs. But we can attest to the fact that this is also delicious with spaghetti or other noodles.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 4–6 servings 1x
- Category: side dish
- Cuisine: vegetarian
5 vine ripe tomatoes, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup of olive oil, divided
2–3 zucchini, spiraled
1 1/2 cup of Parmesan, finely grated
salt and pepper
Seed the tomatoes, then chop them into medium dice. Place them on paper towels to soak up the excess juice. Chiffonade the basil and set aside.
Mince garlic gloves, add to a small dish with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Microwave the garlic-oil mixture for 30 seconds to cook the garlic. Combine that with the remaining oil.
Finely grate the Parmesan. Set aside with the other ingredients.
Using a spiral slicer, run the zucchini through to making thin ribbons. (You can also find zoodles in the frozen vegetable section of grocery stores these days.) Bring a large pot of water to a boil, liberally salt and then add the zoodles. Cook them for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain completely and put in a large pasta bowl.
Combine all the ingredients in the pasta bowl. Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Gently toss. Serve.
You can of course substitute spaghetti, fettuccine or other pasta for the zoodles. We have done that many times.
Keywords: zoodles alla checca