This is one of my absolute favorite dishes to make in the summer. On a recent trip to the farmers market I made sure to pick up some heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, and peeled garlic. Yes, garlic. My friend Katie got us hooked on the quart-sized bag they sell for about $2 filled with already peeled garlic cloves. It is great and also can be frozen for future use because who can use garlic THAT fast... although I bet Eric would make a valiant effort.
makes 4-5 servings as main dish and about 8 as a side
1 lb penne pasta
5 large tomatoes (I like to use heirloom or a mix of heirloom and regular)
8 oz. fresh mozzarella
20 fresh basil leaves plus some sprigs
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
salt & pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
Seed the tomatoes and dice. Drain in colander for 15 minutes. In medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Stir gently and let stand for about 20 minutes so flavors can develop.
Stack and roll basil leaves to slice. Cut mozzarella into small cubes.
Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to boil and salt the water. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.
Drain pasta and transfer to large bowl. Add tomato mixture and stir. Add mozzarella and basil and stir gently. Add more spices if desired. Top with basil sprigs and serve immediately while warm.
There is just something wonderful about the smell of fresh basil and tomatoes. Basil is definitely my favorite fresh herb. Enjoy!