Spaghetti alla Checca Recipe from Rome

Spaghetti alla Checca: Recipe from Rome.

Spaghetti alla checca is a simple but tasty authentic Italian pasta recipe from Rome. I served mine with burrata. But, you can make it without for a vegan or dairy-free version.

spaghetti alla checca recipe from Rome

Spaghetti alla checca con burrata

I found this simple but delicious spaghetti alla checca recipe in a huge Italian cook book I have. It has 5,000 regional recipes, not all pasta! However, when I searched for this recipe online (in Italian, of course!), I found some different versions!! Very common, I know, with many Italian recipes.  The thing is that each version of pasta alla checca claims to be the original recipe from Rome!! So which is the original version?

Italian cookbook with spaghetti alla checca recipe

I’m afraid I don’t know! However, since some are almost identical to vermicelli di Positano but made with mozzarella like pasta Caprese, I decided to go with the version in my cookbook. 

Spaghetti alla checca with burrata

So, unlike some recipes you may find called pasta alla checca, this one isn’t served cold or made with marinated raw herbs and veggies. Instead, you need to do a little cooking. But, the cooking is minimal, which makes this a great recipe for summer and weeknights.

ingredients for alla checca pasta sauce on white plate

Why is this recipe called alla checca?

Apparently, this recipe dates back to the 60s and 70s. At least, that’s when the earliest published recipes with this name appeared. There are different hypothesis on what ‘alla checca’ means. Some say it was the name of a restaurant , ‘la sora checca’, which doesn’t exist anymore. Others say it refers to a woman called Francesca, checca being a diminutive form of the name. And, there are other theories!

ingredients for spaghetti alla checca prepared for cooking.

What is burrata?

The only addition I made to this delicious recipe was to serve my spaghetti alla checca with burrata! Since mozzarella is included in some versions, I thought burrata would be a delicious addition. It was!!!

chopped olives and parsley in skillet with fennel seeds.

Burrata is one of the most famous cheeses in Puglia (Apulia), Southern Italy. If you like mozzarella but have never tried burrata, I suggest you get your hands on some asap! Many Italian grocers sell it and it can even be bought online!

Burrata has a rich buttery flavour, hence the name

Burrata is usually made by hand. The outside of this deliciousness is mozzarella. It even looks like a soft mozzarella. But, the inside is stracciatella cheese and cream. This cheese has a rich buttery flavour, hence the name , and is absolutely divine eaten in a salad with tomatoes or used in cooking. I also love it with pasta and on pizza! Those of my readers who have eaten burrata will understand what I’m on about!

spaghettoni L'oro di Gragnano pastificio Sorrentino

The pasta.

Spaghetti alla checca is most often made with….spaghetti! But I’ve seen other recipes with short pasta like penne or rigatoni, as well as farfalle or fusilli.  I used spaghetti I got when I visited Gragnano near Naples in June. This spaghetti was made by an artisan pasta company called Pastificio Sorrentino. Pastificio means pasta maker in Italian!

chopped tomatoes and olives in skillet with parsley and fennel seeds

This company produces 2 ranges of pasta. One is sold under the L’Oro di Gragnano label and is a certified Pasta di Gragnano IGP. The other is an organic pasta range made with organic durum wheat semolina and it’s sold under the L’Anima di Gragnano label. The former is the type of pasta I used for my spaghetti alla checca.

spaghetti alla checca in serving bowl

You can read all about what Pasta di Gragnano IGP means in my post about my visit to Gragnano. But in short, Gragnano is a town near  Naples. It’s been a centre of dried pasta production for about 500 years!! Pasta with the Pasta di Gragnano IGP certification is made under strict production and ingredient quality regulations imposed by the EU. It’s like saying DOC for wine!

spaghetti alla checca with burrata

Other ingredients in this spaghetti alla checca

Apart from the pasta and the burrata, this pasta alla checca recipe includes just a few ingredients. Firstly, you need some pitted olives. I used olives from Liguria called taggiasca olives. These delicious olives from the Alpes-Maritimes area  are also known as cailletier. They are the olives the French use for salad Niçoise.

spaghetti alla checca recipe from Rome

In addition to the olives, this version of spaghetti alla checca has fresh parsley and basil, as well as fennel seeds. The last ingredient is the tomatoes. It’s best to choose deep red ripe tomatoes. I prefer smaller types but not cherry tomatoes. I used piccadilly tomatoes from Sicily. But, you can use San Marzano or other sauce tomatoes.

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spaghetti alla checca with burrata

Making this spaghetti alla checca.

As I mentioned above, this is a pretty fast recipe to make. In fact, it takes about as long as boiling the water and cooking the pasta does!  The burrata is added just before serving and cut open in the serving dish. This cool creamy cheese adds a lot flavour and texture to this spaghetti alla checca! However, for a vegetarian or diary free version, leave out the burrata! It will still be delicious!

If you do try this Roman pasta recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.

Your feedback means a lot to me!

Buon Appetito!

Other pasta recipes from Rome

  1. Spaghetti alla Carbonara
  2. Bucatini all’arabbiata
  3. Pasta cacio e pepe
  4. Pasta alla papalina

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spaghetti alla checca recipe from Rome
5 from 28 votes
spaghetti alla checca
Spaghetti alla Checca Recipe from Rome
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins

This simple but very tasty Italian vegetarian pasta recipe from Rome is very quick and easy to make. I added burrata but you can leave it out for a vegan or dairy-free version.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Central Italy, Italian, Mediterranean, Rome & Lazio
Keyword: burrata, olives, Roman cuisine, spaghetti, summer pasta, tomatoes
Servings: 4
Author: Jacqueline De Bono
  • 400 g spaghetti (14oz) I used spaghettoni from pastificio Sorrentinno, Gragnano
  • 400 g tomatoes (14oz) fresh and ripe. I used piccadilly tomatoes from Sicily
  • 100 g pitted olives (3.5oz) I used taggiasca olives
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 handful fresh basil
  • 1 handful fresh parsley
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 burrata (fresh)
  • salt for pasta and to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper. to taste

  1. Cut the tomatoes into cubes and leave them in a colander to naturally lose some of their water, without removing the inner flesh with the seeds.

  2. Chop the parsley and tear the basil leaves into pieces. Roughly chop the pitted olives.

  3. Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again.

  4. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan or skillet. Let it heat gently, over a very low heat for about a minute.  Add a tablespoon of chopped parsley, 4-5 chopped basil leaves and a pinch of fennel seeds and the olives

  5. After a minute, add the chopped tomatoes to the mixture. Stir, season with salt, cover and cook slowly, over low heat for 10-15 minutes.

  6. Turn off the heat and season with a generous amount of freshly ground pepper. Add some more chopped fresh parsley and basil. Let the sauce rest while you cook the pasta. It helps to enhance the flavours!

  7. Throw the spaghetti into the boiling salted water and cook al dente according to the instructions on the packet. When the pasta is ready save a cup of the cooking water and drain it.

  8. Add the pasta to the sauce while it is still very hot. If the sauce seems dry, add some of the pasta cooking water or another couple of tablespoons of oil. If using a serving dish as I did, turn the pasta alla checca out into a serving bowl and then add the burrata. Sprinkle with more fresh parsley and basil. Serve immediately!

Recipe Notes

You can use other types of pasta for this dish. I have seen recipes with pasta tubes such as penne, rigatoni, fusilli etc. If you don’t have burrata you could use a fresh mozzarella, preferably di bufala. For a dairy-free or vegan version leave out the burrata/mozzarella.

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  • Avatar
    Geetanjali Tung
    August 23, 2019 8:53 pm

    It’s been long I am looking for such recipe. This spaghetti looks great. Love this is so easy-to-make. Great share!

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    August 20, 2019 12:41 pm

    what is the name of the cookbook?

    • Jacqui
      August 21, 2019 7:42 am

      Hi Matt, the book I took this recipe from is called ‘La Cucina Regionale Italiana’ by Alessandro Molinari Pradelli ISBN 978-88-541-5770-5

  • Avatar
    August 20, 2019 2:50 am

    This looks way better than anything you can get at a restaurant! So much flavor, but your recipe seems so easy to follow. I have been looking for recipes to make with my 9 year old. We agree this one is on the meal plan!

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    August 19, 2019 9:25 pm

    It can’t get any more authentic than this, can it? That burrata on top must be simply amazing. Definitely the pasta recipe I would love to try.

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    August 19, 2019 5:55 pm

    I’m always looking for new pasta recipes to add to my arsenal! The char on those tomatoes is drool-worthy. I’m adding this to our meal plan for this week!

  • Avatar
    August 19, 2019 4:35 pm

    I made this last night, It was great. The pasta was full of flavor and adding the burrata gave it that creamy delite. We also had branzino with it.
    Thank you for your site, I’m not Italian but my husband is, so I try to find original Italian recipes for him to enjoy.

  • Avatar
    Claire | The Simple, Sweet Life
    August 19, 2019 4:17 am

    We love a good pasta dish in this household, so I can’t wait to add this to one of our weekly menus! It looks absolutely delicious.

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    August 19, 2019 2:28 am

    I love the flavor combo you used in this recipe—especially the burrata! This recipe looks so fresh and delicious I can’t wait to give it a try!

  • Avatar
    August 18, 2019 9:34 pm

    TRying spaghetti is in my to-do list for a long time. This recipe looks perfect to start with. The spaghetti looks fabulous.

  • Avatar
    Kacie Morgan
    August 18, 2019 8:26 pm

    I have just started dating a guy from Rome and so maybe I will make this dish for him sometime 😉

  • Avatar
    August 18, 2019 7:12 pm

    Wow! This was fantastic! I love the fresh burrata on top. All of the ingredients are fresh and mixed together it’s all so good.

  • Avatar
    Marisa F. Stewart
    August 18, 2019 5:16 pm

    The dish looks delish but the name has me confounded. When I first read the word I thought “blind” but that is “cieca’. And then I got my trust Italian dictionary out and the word translated to something I can’t say here. So!! That is one interesting recipe that I’ve got to make!! And with the burrata it would be super good.

  • Avatar
    August 17, 2019 11:29 pm

    Oh my yum! This pasta dish looks amazing! I love the flavors you put together in here and I LOVE the burrata on the top! I can only imagine how wonderful this all tastes together! YUM!

  • Avatar
    Jenni LeBaron
    August 17, 2019 7:06 pm

    This is exactly everything I want out of a pasta dish. Tomatoes, olives, burrata, and a good olive oil. Perfect!

  • Avatar
    August 17, 2019 3:52 pm

    Never heard of this pasta. Love it and a must try.

  • Avatar
    Cathleen @ A Taste of Madness
    August 17, 2019 3:52 pm

    Haha, that reminds me of the Neiman Marcus cookies recipe. I have a newspaper clipping saying it’s the original, and yet I see so many different variations online!!
    This version looks delicious nonetheless 😉

  • Avatar
    August 17, 2019 3:51 am

    I love this deliciously simple pasta dish. The salty olives and fresh basil build the flavors beautifully.

  • Avatar
    August 17, 2019 1:29 am

    This looks amazing! I don’t eat burrata nearly enough!

  • Avatar
    GUNJAN C Dudani
    August 16, 2019 8:09 pm

    This spaghetti recipe is for my 10 month old. She loves spaghetti and a little twist to it would make her so happy. This is on the top of my to do list for tonight.

  • Avatar
    August 16, 2019 5:37 pm

    This looks amazing, and I love your addition of fresh burrata. What a perfect use for all our fresh summer tomatoes!

  • Avatar
    August 16, 2019 8:20 am

    You just reminded me I need to get some burrata – I’ve only had it in Italy a couple of times and it really is such a unique cheese. Absolutely delicious and it pairs very well with this cold pasta dish. Mmmmm I’m so hungry for this now. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful summer spaghetti alla checca. Making it ASAP and I’m getting on searching for some burrata cheese right now.

  • Avatar
    Mama Maggie’s Kitchen
    August 15, 2019 11:45 pm

    I am so loving this Spaghetti alla Checca right now! Burrata sounds perfect for this . Can’t wait to try making this for the family.

  • Avatar
    August 15, 2019 7:51 pm

    You had me at burrata! I’m totally obsessed. It’s my favorite cheese, so I definitely need this pasta. Thanks for sharing!

  • Avatar
    August 15, 2019 2:50 pm

    I love burratta so now I have an excuse to buy it again 🙂 This dish is going on my menu for next week!

  • Avatar
    Lisa | Garlic & Zest
    August 15, 2019 2:39 pm

    I think the fennel seeds would really add another dimension to this gorgeous pasta dish! I think this will be dinner over the weekend!

  • Avatar
    Stine Mari
    August 15, 2019 2:28 pm

    I’ve never tried burrata but it looks so good, and you made it look and sound even better! This dish is really simple, but I love all the flavors. Definitely saving it for later.

  • Avatar
    August 15, 2019 2:10 pm

    This would be such a fun twist on pasta night! So flavorful!

  • Avatar
    Kelly Anthony
    August 15, 2019 1:59 pm

    I’m obsessed with burrata right now. I haven’t tried it on pasta yet so I’m excited to give this a try.

  • Avatar
    Danielle Wolter
    August 15, 2019 12:45 pm

    I love how simple this is. Sometimes simple dishes are the best, especially when it comes to pasta. And I am totally loving the burrata!!

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