Summertime is here and time for fresh farm produce and good prices for fruits and vegetables in-season. I am always looking for a bargain and I take advantage of buying produce this time of year and doing more meal planning using fresh vegetables and herbs.
One dish I love to make and eat is a non-cooked tomato, mozzarella and basil topping for cooked pasta. It is based on a very popular appetizer called Caprese Salad. It is named for the island of Capri and is very popular all over Italy and increasingly so in the United States. This salad is a layering of sliced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil which is then drizzled with olive oil.
I mix these same ingredients in a bowl to be tossed with cooked pasta. The pasta can be any type of macaroni you prefer and can either be a whole wheat or semolina pasta. Penne is the most popular macaroni to use in this dish or Fusilli/Rotini (corkscrew shape) is one that I like to use. This entrée is light, delicious, and satisfying, particularly with light Italian red wine (Bardolino) on a summer evening.
- 6-8 fresh tomatoes (preferably plum tomatoes) diced
- 3 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1/2 lb fresh mozzarella cheese cut into bite size pieces
- 1 cup fresh basil chopped
- 1/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
- Black pepper
- 1 tbs grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 lb macaroni (Penne, Fusilli, Rotini, Bowtie)
- Mix first seven ingredients well in a large bowl that will serve as a serving bowl.
- Let ingredients sit covered at room temperature for 40 to 60 minutes until juices are rendered from tomatoes and flavors are blended.
- Add more salt or pepper if needed.
- Cook pasta until tender.
- Drain and add to bowl and toss well with tomato mixture.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and toss again.
- Serve warm immediately or chill and serve as a cold salad.
Serves 4 as an entree or serves 6-8 as a side dish.