Caprese Pasta—Why should salad have all the fun?

Caprese Pasta—Why should salad have all the fun?

Tomatoes are taking over the world. Or at least my kitchen.

As I mentioned last time, I have leftover tomatoes from a family brunch. Boy do I have tomatoes!

One of the first things I think of when I think tomatoes is caprese salad. Most people know what caprese salad is, but if you don’t, it’s tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and fresh basil and scrumptious. It usually has a bit of olive oil or balsamic drizzled on top and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. It’s simple, delicious, whole food. It’s also unbelievably easy to make. When I was eyeing those tomatoes that sat in an ominous line on my counter, like plump little redcoats itching for a fight, I knew how I would thin their ranks.

Luckily, I already had fresh mozzarella and fresh basil at home—it had been my daughter’s birthday, and those ingredients were at the ready, since caprese salad is one of her favorite dishes. I could have just made a salad, but I wanted to make a meal out of it. There was a chill in the air, so I wanted to make something warm.

I turned those salad ingredients into warm pasta. I had pine nuts, so I roasted them and tossed them on top. Even though they’re not strictly a member of the Caprese Club, pine nuts get along well with fresh basil, and they add a nice flavor and a satisfying crunch.

This dish adapts well to different quantities. If you’re preparing dinner for one or two, just cook up the amount of pasta that you normally do, and reduce the oil by a little. You can add the tomatoes, cheese, basil, and pine nuts to taste. If you or someone in your family is avoiding gluten, just substitute gluten-free pasta. If you're avoiding dairy, unfortunately you're out of luck on this one.

This is an incredibly easy pasta dish to whip up. My husband noted that it would be a good pasta salad also. I’ll shelve that idea until the temperature climbs a bit higher. Like six months from now.

I just learned something—caprese salad means, “salad of Capri.” As in, The Isle of Capri. I don’t know how I never knew that. It makes me like it even more! I’ve never been there, but I’d love to go. Having a little taste of Capri in Chicago in November is pretty cool. Who couldn’t use a little Mediterranean vibe during this busy season? It might help you get through your to-do list, and it will certainly help you get rid of those tomatoes!

Caprese Pasta

3          Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2-3      Cloves garlic, minced

1          Lb. pasta

3-4      Cups fresh tomatoes, chopped

1          Log fresh mozzarella

1/3     Cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

Fresh basil

Fresh Romano cheese

Salt and pepper

Cook pasta in plenty of boiling water, until desired consistency.

Meanwhile, heat oil in pan on low heat. Add garlic and cook until tender, being careful to not let it brown. Remove pan from heat.

Toast pine nuts in toaster oven for 4-5 minutes, watching carefully so they don’t burn. Remove when done and transfer to plate to cool.

Drain pasta and toss with garlic olive oil. Serve topped with fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and a sprinkling of pine nuts. Grate some Romano cheese and salt and pepper to taste.


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Filed under: Dinner

Tags: Pasta, Vegetarian

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