pasta capreseI have a bunch of recipes stockpiled here that I’ve been meaning to post. So I’ve decided to have Recipe-A-Day week from today through Friday. I’ll be posting some of the recipes I’ve been trying out lately. First up is this great Pasta Caprese.

I know summer isn’t officially here yet, but I tried out this recipe (courtesy of the America’s Test Kitchen TV show) on a hot day a couple of weeks ago. Super easy, vegetarian (I know, rare for me), and delicious. But it’s not a piping hot dish, as the show warns. It’s almost room temperature, so it’s great for a summer dinner when the tomatoes are really fresh and delicious.

Freezing the mozzarella really does make a difference. I love all things ATK because they experiment until they solve everyday cooking problems. I have made pasta dishes with fresh mozzarella before and had it turn gummy and just blob together. Because this dish is really just good tomatoes, good mozzarella, and pasta it’s important that the cheese work. So freezing it is awesome, the cheese warms up just enough to start melting but not enough to turn into a big bubblegum mess.

Pasta Caprese (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil  
2-4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (see note above) 
1 small garlic clove , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon) 
1 small shallot , minced fine (about 2 tablespoons) 
 Table salt and ground black pepper  
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes , cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice 
12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese , cut into 1/2-inch cubes (see note above) 
1 pound penne pasta or other short tubular or curly pasta such as fusilli or campanelle 
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil   
1 teaspoon sugar (only if the tomatoes aren’t sweet enough yet. I didn’t use any sugar).

Whisk oil, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, garlic, shallot, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in large bowl.

tomato marinade

Add tomatoes and gently toss to combine; set aside. Do not marinate tomatoes for longer than 45 minutes.

tomatoes marinating

While tomatoes are marinating, place mozzarella on plate and freeze until slightly firm, about 10 minutes.

frozen mozzarella

Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta, stir to separate, and cook until al dente. Drain well.

Add pasta and mozzarella to tomato mixture and gently toss to combine. Let stand 5 minutes.

toss to combine

Stir in basil; adjust seasonings with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice or sugar, if desired, and serve immediately.