Pasta a la Caprese
Hello Reluctant Gourmet, I have been watching your page evolve for the past several months and I think that you have the best web page available for us amateur cooks. Unfortunately, being a young person just out of university, I do not have a lot of recipes to share with you (thank goodness your site is around, because that is where I get most of my recipes!). However, there is one very simple recipe that I make a lot that might be of interest to your readers. - Sarah
Thanks Sarah for your recipe suggestion. I took your version and made a few changes to come up with this dish. What you call Tomato and Basil Pasta is a simple and flavorful pasta recipe based on the Italian Caprese salad. Caprese salad is comprised of very fresh, ripe tomatoes served with slices of fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese and fresh basil all simply dressed with best-quality extra virgin olive oil. The red tomatoes, white cheese and green herbs evoke the Italian flag. As well, this simple preparation allows the individual ingredients to shine.
Tomato and Basil Pasta Recipe
1-pound fettuccine or other ribbon pasta, al dente
6-8 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced (or 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, drained)
½ cup fresh basil - chiffonade (cut into ribbons)
2-3 cloves garlic - minced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
4-6 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese - sliced
How To Prepare At Home
If using fresh tomatoes, peel and dice them. This can easily be accomplished by cutting an X on the bottoms of the tomatoes and plunging them into rapidly boiling water for about 15 seconds. Quickly move the tomatoes to an ice bath to stop the cooking and to cool them rapidly. The skins can now be peeled off. Cut the tomatoes in half across the equator, and gently squeeze out the seeds. Dice the remaining firm tomato flesh.
To cut the basil into chiffonade, stack leaves and roll them like a cigar. Use a sharp knife to cut the cigar in about 1/8-1/4 inch ribbons.
Over medium-low to low heat, heat the oil in a small sauce pan, and let the minced garlic poach in the oil until soft. Set aside.
Cook the pasta in well salted water until al dente. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking liquid, and then drain the pasta.
Return the fettuccine to the pot and, over high heat, add the reserved cooking liquid, olive oil and garlic and kosher salt and black pepper, to taste. Cook, tossing with tongs, until the water has cooked out, about 2 minutes.
Turn off the heat, and add the tomatoes and basil, tossing just to warm the tomatoes.
Just before serving, toss with the sliced cheese. You could also just serve the pasta with the cheese on top.
Garnish with a bit more fresh basil and diced tomato, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper.
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