Caprese. Pasta. There is virtually no better use of fresh tomatoes and basil than this simple dish. And when I say simple, I mean SIMPLE.
It’s basic math:
There are no set amounts here. It’s all up to you. This is what you will need:
Fresh basil leaves
Kosher or sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions; drain well. Pour into a medium bowl, squirt a bit of olive oil on it, toss and let cool to room temperature.
Cut up the tomatoes and chiffonade the basil. Mix together in a large bowl, soak with olive oil, and add salt and pepper, to taste. Let sit for at least 5 minutes, perhaps while the pasta cools off.
Pour the cooled pasta into the bowl with the tomato basil mixture. Combine well, taste (try not to eat the whole bowl right then and there), and add more salt and/or pepper, if needed. Add shredded mozzarella and toss.
Funnel into mouth.
Have I convinced you yet that you need this in your life? Seriously? Do you need me to come over there and smack you around a little?
1. Use an appropriate pasta shape. Long noodles not recommended. After the first year of making this with all kinds of shapes, I declared medium shells my absolute favorite. Rotini and penne and orzo also work, but they all still rank far behind the shells, for me.
2. Use the best tomatoes available. And not Roma. Seedy, juicy vine ripe ones, in season. When I am a bit out of season, I use grape or cherry or, as seen in this post, baby heirlooms, which were just… oh man… refer back to picture of Homer.
3. Use shredded mozzarella. I love fresh mozzarella, but not in this dish. NO. I’ve seen this done with fresh, in recipes online or on TV, and I just don’t get it. I made it with fresh myself, just to see, and learned the hard way – twice. Wrongity wrong wrong wrongness. Don’t do it.
Variation: Try it as is first, then try it with chopped chicken tossed in. *Cries*