Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pasta Caprese

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I have been looking forward to making this dish for some time. I was just waiting for my basil plants to grow big enough leaves. I started them from seeds and it took awhile for me to nurture them to produce decent sized leaves. I faithfully trimmed the small leaves until they finally started growing larger. As soon as that happened I was finally able to make this Cook’s Illustrated pasta caprese I’ve been drooling over. As usual of most Cook’s Illustrated recipes I’ve tried, it did not disappoint.

It was so light and healthy, a perfect no fuss dinner during the hot, steamy summer we’ve been experiencing. I had some the next day for lunch and it was even better the next day, all the flavors melding together. And it was so easy and quick to prepare, which is even more important to me, especially now since I’m on new meds that leave me extremely lethargic. Even the smallest things, like chopping vegetables, or preparing a salad are extremely tiring to me. I spent the first 3 days on the new drug just sleeping all day and all night. I’m having trouble concentrating so any new recipe I even attempt to try must be easy and simple, not just to make, but also to type out.

I know this says it is supposed to serve two, but I don’t know what they base their portion size on. Since experiencing GI problems, I know that I personally am not eating a “normal” portion size. But Mr. Surly eats enough food for two people. And I still had leftovers of this. Maybe it serves two if this is the only thing you eat. I served it along with a salad and breadsticks. But who cares if you have leftovers of something as delicious as this.

Pasta Caprese
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Serves 2

2 Tbl good quality extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small shallot, minced
2 tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced
6 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed
½ lb penne (~2 ½ c)
2 Tbl shredded fresh basil
½ tsp sugar (opt; I omitted it)
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together oil, 1 tsp lemon juice, garlic, shallot, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir in tomatoes and gently toss to coat. Set aside. Place mozzarella cubes in the freezer for about 10 minutes, or til slightly firm.

Meanwhile cook pasta to al dente in salted water. Drain well.

Add the pasta and partially frozen cheese to the marinating tomatoes. Gently stir to combine, then allow to sit for 5 minutes. Stir in basil, season with salt, pepper, remaining 1 tsp lemon juice, and (if using) sugar. Serve.

Source: America's Test Kitchen, Cooking for Two 2009

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