I know, I know. Today's the first day of fall. But here in the south, it's still "summer-like," so I'm still cooking summer dishes. Sorry not sorry. I just can't get on the pumpkin-apple-butternut squash-fall foods bandwagon quite yet. Give me until the end of September, and I promise I'll join all of you fall lovers in October. Deal?
And I couldn't possibly let summer end without sharing this super easy and delicious pasta recipe with you. Caprese pasta is nothing new or revolutionary, but oftentimes there are some drawbacks: the tomatoes release too much water and create a bland and watery sauce... the mozzarella gets kind of gummy… the basil is too strong, or not strong enough… The problem with seemingly simple dishes is that even a small misstep makes a big negative impact on the final dish. When there are so few ingredients and components, it doesn't take much to muck it up.
But have no fear! This pasta recipe is pretty much foolproof. Good tomatoes are still available in most areas, so snatch some up and make this caprese pasta, stat! Bonus: the leftovers are awesome served as a chilled pasta salad. I packed this in Caroline's lunch with great success, and the boys enjoyed the leftovers for their lunches as well.
I'm not quite ready for fall, so indulge me and join me in my end-of-summer denial?
Summer Pasta Caprese
barely adapted from Pasta Revolution
serves 4 to 6
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp lemon juice, plus more as needed
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- pinch of sugar
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 lbs vine-ripened tomatoes; cored, seeded, and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 12 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and patted dry with paper towels
- 1 lb small or medium pasta shapes (I used orecchiete)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Whisk the oil, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, a pinch of sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper together in a large serving bowl. Add the tomatoes and toss gently to combine. Marinate the tomatoes in the dressing for at least 10 minutes, but no more than 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the mozzarella in the freezer and freeze until slightly firm, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Stir in the pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.
Drain the pasta and add to the bowl with the marinated tomatoes. Add the mozzarella and basil, and toss gently to combine. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then taste and season with salt, pepper, and/or additional lemon juice as needed. Serve immediately.