Friday, August 31, 2012

Penne alla Caprese (Penne with Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella)


Nick's favorite food is probably spaghetti with chili peppers and olive oil, which is a delicious thing, except he makes it with fresh chilis and so many of them that just walking in the kitchen causes eye-watering and coughing fits. (If Nick ever does a cooking show, it will be called Cooking with Napalm.) But tomatoes are so god right now (that's a typo, but I'm keeping it), and then I found this gorgeous buffalo mozzarella at the cheese shop, so I elbowed him out of the kitchen and made this penne with tomato, basil, and mozzarella instead.


Here's what we start with:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (use the best you've got. I used this because Nick ate all the other one.)
sea salt or kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon
1 small shallot
2 garlic cloves (the recipe called for one small one, but that's not how we roll)
1 lb fresh tomatoes
one ball of buffalo mozzarella (about 8 oz)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonnade
3/4 lb dried penne

Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Mix the salt, pepper, and olive oil in a bowl, then squeeze in about a teaspoon or two of lemon juice.


Mince the shallot and put it in the bowl.


Do the same with the garlic


Core and seed the tomatoes, then cut them into 1/2-inch pieces. Put all those in the bowl.


The mozzarella is my favorite part. Fresh buffalo mozzarella really makes this dish.


Cut that also into 1/2" pieces. Add the mozzarella to the bowl with everything else and combine it gently without smashing everything up.


Taste it and make sure you like it. If your tomatoes are very sweet, you can add extra lemon juice here. If the tomatoes are too tart, add a teaspoon of sugar. Let it marinate for half an hour to 45 minutes (Cooks Illustrated says not to go longer than that, so for the love of God don't go longer than 45 minutes).

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until it's done to your taste. Then take it out and toss it with the sauce. Let it stand for a few minutes. (This dish will be served warm, but not hot.) Then add the basil and stir to combine.



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