For most people, summer food means one thing – lots of barbecue. And while I like a good hamburger every once in a while, they are not the food that I dream about during the middle of February while I am walking down the street in knee-high snow, chilled to the bone and imagining how much better life would be if it could be June year-round.
Instead, I am taken back to an appetizer that my mother used to make for us on most summer nights. She would cut small slices of Italian bread (crostini-sized), top them with fresh mozzarella slices, tomato and/or store-bought bruschetta, and basil and then decorate them with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sometimes if we were lucky and the bread was a day old, they would go into the oven where the cheese would melt and bubble and brown, making for a truly delicious mouthful.
For me, then, no summer would be complete without a caprese dish of some kind or another and so when I saw that tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella were not only on sale this week at Whole Foods but were also locally grown and produced – I knew it was time. Although it would have been nice to do a traditional “mom-style” dish of little appetizer sandwiches, I am in carb-loading mode and so making a pasta dish was much more imperative. This recipe comes from Giada DeLaurentis and uses fresh tomatoes to make a heavenly sauce that is dotted with pillows of mozzarella and flecks of basil. I think you should know that if I could, I would eat this every day for the rest of my life. It was that good. It also fueled me really well for the 16 miles I ran yesterday, as well as made for some really good drunken midnight fridge raiding done by my friend Andrew who dug in with a fork straight from the tupperware. The only thing that could lure him away was a carrot cupcake. But that’s another post for another day.
I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted this week by Katie of One Little Corner of the World.
1 lb whole wheat pasta
2 very large tomatoes (about 2 lb), cut into small pieces
8 oz fresh mozzarella (I used ciliegine balls that I then cut into sixths)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup basil, torn
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1. Start the water for the pasta. When it boils, cook the pasta and drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
2. In a large non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper and cook until they break down into a sauce-like consistency. You should probably mash some with a fork.