This post is a collaborative post with photographer and blogger, Love Les.
My mom was a missionary in Italy for 6 years before she got married and learned how to be an incredible cook there. I think you'll find that my mom will come up quite often on this food blog. My mother loves to cook and wanted me to learn how to cook when I was a teenager. I resisted for awhile but slowly came to love it as much as she does. My favorite thing about my mom's cooking is how it transports her back to Italy. She used to teach an Italian class, and on those evenings she would be in the kitchen muttering in Italian and we'd have to get her to snap back into English. There were a lot of herbs and foods that I only knew the Italian name for until college!
This pasta is my mom's famous summer pasta (so famous, that I don't really have a name for it, other than "Christine's Pasta.") There are probably hundreds of people who have been fed this pasta over the years. It's best made with fresh ingredients straight from the garden or farmers market. We get so used to being able to buy produce year-round, that we can easily forget how food is supposed to taste. Watery December tomatoes just won't cut it for this pasta. I usually use larger tomatoes, but this summer I had an endless supply of cherry tomatoes growing in the garden, so that's what I used. Any kind of tomato will do, so long as it's fresh. I almost always have a basil plant growing and garlic and pasta in the pantry, so the grocery list isn't long for this one.
Quality ingredients really make this meal. From fresh tomatoes and basil all the way to good quality pasta. My favorite will always be Barilla, and I enjoy the farfalle because it reminds of their namesake, butterflies. My friend and collaborator, Leslie, is gluten-free so we tried a new brand of Gluten-free pasta, made from peas made by truRoots. Many GF pastas dissolve when cooked, but this brand stayed intact well. It still retains its pea flavoring, but if that's not a dealbreaker for you, we recommend it!
My mom taught me the two most important things about good pasta- plenty of salt, and have everything ready before you cook the pasta. It's best when it's piping hot, so get everything ready- table set, bread cut and warmed, sauce prepped, and drinks poured before you put the pasta in. Rock salt works best for salting the water, and you probably want more than you think you do. You want both the pasta and the sauce to be equally and properly salted (rather than relying on one to balance the other). If your guests have to add salt to the finished dish, you didn't do it right. Once everything is ready, put in the pasta and cook until al dente (according to package directions, testing one piece at a time till done). You want it a tiny bit crunchy when you drain it. This pasta is best enjoyed with a glass of wine, light salad, and crusty bread to mop up the rest of the oil in your bowl.
Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella Pasta
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
To adjust portions, multiply by desired number of servings. For example, for four people, use one full box of pasta.
100 grams farfalle or rotini pasta
1 medium tomato
2-3 oz fresh ciliegine mozzarella
Small handful of basil, chopped
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
1-2 cloves minced garlic
Generous salt and pepper
Grated parmesan cheese
Fresh bread (warmed in the oven)
1. Bring well-salted water to a rolling boil
2. Add chopped tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil and salt to a bowl. Mix until combined and taste the flavor. There should be enough liquid from the tomatoes and olive oil to cover the pasta.
3. Cut mozzarella balls into quarters and place in small bowl.
4. Cook pasta till al-dente, and strain. Pour into a large serving bowl and immediately add tomato mixture and mozzarella. ( recommended: Heat serving bowl in advance with warm water. It will help the cheese melt and the pasta stay warm).
5. Stir until combined and serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan. A tavola!