No need to cook the sauce for this pasta dish: Just get the best and most perfectly ripened tomatoes, the freshest mozzarella and the most aromatic basil you can find.
These ingredients will make the perfect dressing for pasta, especially on hot summer days; rather than weighing down the stomach, this pasta becomes a refreshing and tasty treat.
Keeping good ingredients like these on hand means throwing together a great dinner at the last minute is a breeze.
Lidia Bastianich is widely considered the first lady of Italian cooking. She owns several restaurants around the country, including one in Kansas City in the Crossroads District. She is a TV personality and award-winning cookbook author. This recipe is from “Lidia’s Favorites” (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012). To find more recipes or follow her on social media, go to LidiasItaly.com.
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Penne With Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella
Makes 6 servings
1 pound ripe and juicy cherry tomatoes (the ones sold still on the vine are the best), rinsed, dried and cut in half
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling over the finished pasta, if you like
4 garlic cloves, peeled
A pinch of crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt, preferably coarse
1 pound penne pasta
10 fresh basil leaves, shredded
1/2 pound bocconcini, bite-size fresh mozzarella, cut in half
Toss the tomatoes, oil, sea salt and crushed red pepper together in a large bowl. Whack the garlic with the side of a knife and toss it into the bowl. Let marinate at room temperature, tossing once or twice, for 30 minutes.
While the tomatoes are marinating, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat. Stir the penne into the boiling water and cook semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove the garlic, if you like, from the marinated tomatoes and toss in the basil. Drain the pasta, add it to the bowl of tomatoes, and toss well to mix. Check the seasoning, adding salt and more crushed red pepper if necessary. Gently stir in the bocconcini and serve.
Per serving: 498 calories (36 percent from fat), 20 grams total fat (7 grams saturated), 34 milligrams cholesterol, 61 grams carbohydrates, 19 grams protein, 482 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.