Pasta all’Insalata Caprese
When I was growing up I always turned my nose up at pasta salad, it was always this heavy, mayonnaise clogged bowl of fusilli with a few carrots and celery speckled through the white. The thought of it still makes me cringe and I still have a hard time eating fusilli as a result of it. I guess that I always figured that pasta salad was always that way, but what I realized, after having seen the light in Italy, was that this was not only an American take on pasta salad, it is a Southern take on it. Southerners should stick to what they know, they do it so well, why mess up a good thing?
For the summer months a pasta salad is a great solution, of course you have to cook the pasta, which will heat up the kitchen, but the rest of the ingredients are left in their raw state, with little mess and little heat. Most Americans who live in places where the summers are unbearable have air conditioning, at least they do these days, making summer cooking a little less painful. I wish my coastal South Carolina air conditioning was working right now, it’s sticky, I just hate it when it’s sticky.
Pasta all’Insalata Caprese
- 4 medium sized bocconcini di mozzarella (stick with the fresh mozzarella, the jaundice block won’t do in this salad)
- 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
- 2 tbsp chopped basil
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- grated parmigiano reggiano
- 1 lb* penne lisce, rigate would also work, but NOT FUSILLI 😉
Fill a large pot with water for the pasta. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water starts to boil for the pasta add a small handful of salt to the water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. When the pasta is perfectly al dente, drain the pasta in a colander, shaking out all of the excess water.
In the meantime, slice tomatoes into slivers. Toss the tomatoes with the hot pasta so that the juices will keep it from sticking together. You don’t want to add the olive oil at this point because the heat of the pasta will cook it, the wonderful fruity flavor of raw olive oil is a wonderful part of this salad.
Allow the pasta to cool, you could put it in the fridge, but the cold will change the consistency of the pasta. I usually set it out on my counter, covered with a plate for about an hour.
Cut the bocconcini into small pieces and slice the basil into slivers. When the pasta has cooled add to the pasta and toss, the olive oil will be the last thing that you add. When plated, sprinkle with grated parmigiano and serve cold or at room temperature.
*I like to make an abundance of pasta salad because it is an easy thing to eat for lunch the next day, either at home or at work.