Ask Evan: Why is checca sauce always cooked when you order in a restaurant? Shouldn’t it be raw?

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Every week I answer a question from a Good Food listener. You can email me a question, leave one on Facebook or add one in the comments section here. This week’s came from Nancy:

Why is checca sauce always cooked when you order in a restaurant?  I thought it was a raw tomato sauce.

Thank you for asking!  Checca sauce made from perfect summer tomatoes and super high quality extra virgin olive oil and fresh milky mozzarella is one of the most luxurious pasta dishes around.  Serving it uncooked in restaurants presents a couple of problems.  (I speak from experience here).  Checca is at its best when the tomatoes marinate in the oil at room temperature for at least ½ hour.  The health department frowns on keeping food out.  I can’t tell you how many bowls of beautiful tomatoes, diced in oil with basil and a touch of garlic we had to throw away when they came by.  So many restaurants refrigerate it.  That causes the oil to seize up then to serve it you have to heat it up.   Another obstacle are customers who don’t understand that it’s a raw sauce.  I think that line cooks get frustrated having plate after plate returned to be “cooked” and eventually give up. For me, it was a constant struggle to make sure it was properly marinated at room temperature and served uncooked.