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Fresh Tomato and Basil Pasta

This celebration of tomatoes is a nearly no-cook pasta dish, perfect for summer evenings when it’s too hot to linger at the stove. Serve this delicious pasta when tomatoes are juicy and at their peak; the rest of the year, substitute tomato sauce (see related recipe at left).

Ingredients:

  • Sea salt, to taste, plus 1/2 tsp.
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 lb. ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored
  • 12 oz. whole wheat penne
  • 8 oz. mozzarella bocconcini, halved
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Red pepper flakes for serving (optional)

Directions:

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat.


Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, the 1/2 tsp. salt and black pepper, to taste.


Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally and gently squeeze out the seeds and discard, using your fingertip to nudge them if necessary. Chop the tomatoes into bite-size chunks. Add to the bowl and stir gently to coat. Set aside.


Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until just tender, about 9 minutes, or according to the package instructions. Drain well.


Add the warm pasta to the bowl with the tomato mixture and stir gently to coat well. Add the bocconcini and basil and mix gently to distribute evenly and help the cheese melt. Serve immediately and pass the Parmigiano-Reggiano and red pepper flakes at the table. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Healthy in a Hurry, by Karen Ansel, MS, RD and Charity Ferreira (Weldon Owen, 2011).