May 29, 2013

Pasta Alla Caprese

The  combination of creamy mozzarella, sweet ripened tomatoes, and fresh basil never gets old.  This Italian summer time dish has such simple flavors,  and simple is good.

Knock on wood, we haven't had snow in Denver for a few weeks now (though, never say never; it snowed in June during my first year here), so I bought some flowers and herbs to plant.  I was excited to have some fresh basil again and was eager to make something with it.  Fresh basil is just so darn good.

When trying to decide what to make for dinner, I looked in my fridge and found some fresh mozzarella that I forgot about (now, how could I forget that?) and some ripe tomatoes.  Caprese salad sounded good, but with a long run the next day, I needed some carbs in me…and voila, pasta alla caprese. ;)

This was a simple dish to make, and it comes together so quickly.  By cooking the tomatoes with garlic, the tomato flavor just ripens.  The mozzarella melts slightly when added to the warm pasta, yum!  I used casarecce shaped pasta so the ingredients could get caught in the grooves of the pasta. ;)  I learned from Giada Di Laurentiis to reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water before you drain the cooked pasta.  The reserved pasta water allows you to adjust the consistency of your pasta sauce, if needed.  The water contains starch that will add more body to the sauce than if you just used plain ol' tap water.

This can be served either warm or cold, making it a perfect summer night dinner or an addicting pasta salad at a barbecue.

Pasta alla Caprese
Yields 4 servings

8 oz. casarecce or another pasta of your choice (penne, fusilli)
3 large tomatoes, sliced
5 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced
1/4 cup fresh basil, torn
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add pasta.  Cook until pasta is al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes. After the pasta finishes cooking, drain and put the pasta in a bowl, and toss it with 2 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil.   Keep about 1/2 cup of the pasta water on the side.

While the pasta cooks, heat the 3 tbsp. of the olive oil over a skillet on medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook until the garlic becomes fragrant.  Add the sliced tomatoes, and slowly stir and flip as the tomatoes cook.  After the tomatoes have softened, about 4 minutes, smash the tomatoes with a wooden spoon to make a chunky tomato sauce.  Remove the skillet from the heat, and add the tomato sauce to the bowl, and stir to combine.

Once the tomato sauce is evenly distributed, add the diced mozzarella, fresh basil, and balsamic vinegar to the pasta, and toss.  If the pasta seems dry, add the reserved pasta water in tablespoon increments.

Source: A Simply Sweet Justice Original


  1. Claire, I found your blog after Maureen from Orgasmic Chef 'introduced me' on her blog. I agree with you- Basil adds great taste to dishes and also smells incredibly good. That's a good tip about reserving a small amount of the pasta cooking liquid in case you need to top-up your sauce later. Cheers!

    1. So nice to meet you, and your blog is so cheerful!

  2. Oh Claire...this looks fabulous!!! I love caprese anything! I love growing basil and use it so often in the summer. I love this pasta, though. I've never seen it or used it before. At first glance, I thought you broke spaghetti up into smaller bites. I'm definitely going to give this a go and I hope I can find that pasta! : )

  3. Said in my best Australian accent, "you beauty!" which probably comes out you bewdy. I love this pasta dish and could eat it often.

  4. Beautiful looking fresh pasta my friend, I need to try this :D



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