How to Make a Delicious Pasta Meal with Roasted Tomatoes & Fresh Mozzarella
In our house we typically have a weekly “What’s On Hand” meal where my wife and I find ingredients in the refrigerator and pantry that need to be used sooner than later and prepare a pasta dish, stir-fry or Mexican fajita.
This week we had some leftover fresh mozzarella cheese and fresh broccoli. We also had some Roma tomatoes that I forgot to use in our favorite classic roast chicken dish plus a few other ingredients we hand on hand.
How About a Little Sausage – We were going to grill up some Aidells All Natural Chicken & Apple sausages we picked up from Costco and had reserved in the refrigerator for another meal but decided not to use. I would have grilled them up and cut them up into bite sized pieces and added them with the other ingredients. Just an idea.
This is a “quick & easy” recipe you can prepare and serve during the week when you need to get a meal on the table in limited time. Other than boiling water for the pasta, the only other cooking required is steaming the broccoli and roasting the tomatoes. Easy to do and what a difference roasted tomatoes make in any dish.
In the end, you combine all the ingredients in a big bowl and serve. If you have your timing down, you can prepare and serve this meal in 30 minutes to 40 minutes.
Penne Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella
3/4 pound penne pasta
6 Roma (plum) tomatoes, halved
Extra virgin olive oil
6 ounces (small ball) fresh mozzarella cheese
8 - 10 broccoli florets
2 tablespoons pine nuts
Salt & pepper, to taste
8 basil leaves, chopped finely
Red pepper flakes (optional)
How To Prepare At Home
First step is to bring a large pot of water to boil to cook the pasta and pre-heat the oven to 375ºF.
Prep and Roast the Tomatoes
While the water and oven are heating up, cut the tomatoes in half length-wise and place them cut-side down on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. I like to spray a little Pam to keep the tomatoes from sticking. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on top of each tomato half.
Place the tray in the oven and roast for approximately 20 - 30 minutes. When the tomatoes are done, turn off the oven and leave them in the oven to stay warm until needed.
Prep the Rest of the Ingredients
As soon as the water comes to a boil, start the pasta and cook until al dente*.
While the tomatoes are roasting, get everything else ready to go. Chop up the basil leaves and dice the mozzarella cheese into 1/2 inch cubes. Save a little of the basil leaves and mozzarella for garnishing at the end.
Wash and trim the broccoli florets off the stem and steam. Try putting them in a colander over the boiling pasta to steam.
Put It All Together
When the pasta is done, drain it and transfer to a large serving bowl. Combine the rest of the ingredients (except for the reserved basil and mozzarella) with the pasta, season with a little salt and pepper and finish with some of your best extra virgin olive oil. You know, the stuff you don't cook with but save for drizzling on Caprese salads.
Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve in shallow bowls and top with some of the reserved basil, pine nuts and mozzarella. Serve immediately with some Red Pepper Flakes on the side for those who like it a little spicy.
*Al dente translates to “to the tooth” or “to the bite,” and it means that the pasta should still provide some resistance instead of being completely soft all the way through.
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