06 April 2011

pasta caprese

I believe fresh, simple ingredients can create some of the best food. I know this isn't a ground breaking statement, but I certainly think it is true, and I'm sort of stuck on this concept right now, trying to work with as few ingredients as possible to make some of the best dishes I can. Don't get me wrong, I do love a hearty soup or a braised meat or a pot pie every now and then, but when I really think about what I want to eat on a regular basis the word fresh comes to mind.

After I made those roasted tomatoes, I knew I wanted to throw them into a pasta dish, and I knew I wanted it to be something special. Since I had a free day and wanted to make something nice for Kev when he got home from work, I decided on making fresh pasta, as you may recall from my last post. I always have in my mind that making fresh pasta is going to be some huge task, a project that will take all day. I'm not sure why or where this belief came from, because, as I said before, it really isn't! I seemed to pull it together in no time and that has inspired me to make it more often. With such a delicious meal coming together, I decided to create a little impromptu Monday night dinner date, right on our couch, just a nice table setting, some candles, and fresh flowers... a great meatless monday.
While I was kneading the pasta dough, somehow throwing together the ingredients for a caprese salad into a pasta sounded just right, and that's basically what I did here. I punched it up with some garlic and the roasted tomatoes, but this dish is fairly simple, relying on delicious ingredients and good seasoning (don't be scared to add salt!). Kevin seems to think this is one of his favorite meals, and I have to agree. We also served it again for his parents who were in town for a few days, and as far as I can tell, they agreed too. It's easy to make, but feels so special when you serve it. I absolutely love dishes that turn out that way.
pasta caprese
serves 4 to 5 large dinner servings
for the slow roasted tomatoes, see this post. for the pasta, see this one.
1/4 c olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, minced
fresh pasta
1/4 c slow roasted tomatoes
1/2 c quartered cherry tomatoes
12 basil leaves, chiffonade
8 oz fresh mozzarella cut into 1-inch size pieces
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic, turn heat to low, and let cook while preparing the rest of the meal. This allows the garlic to infuse into the oil. If garlic starts to turn golden, turn heat off.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add fresh pasta. Let cook 2-5 minutes, depending on pasta shape, until tender. When pasta is ready, turn heat back on oil (if you've turned it off) and add cooked pasta to the pan with a slotted spoon, letting some pasta water get into the pan. Add roasted tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, most of the basil, and the mozzarella to the pan. Toss everything to combine well. Liberally season with salt and pepper to taste. You may also add a little more olive oil if needed. Serve immediately, topped with any remaining basil.

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