Before I really got interested in cooking and baking (about 2 years ago), one of my go-to quick and easy meals was pasta with jarred sauce. I still occasionally use jarred sauce when I'm short on time, but I'm so glad I've discovered that there are endless other possibilities when it comes to pasta. One of my favorite resources for easy pasta recipes is Giada de Laurentiis. I could easily bookmark 75% of the recipes in her cookbooks and on the Food Network site. Recently, I tried this dish I saw her make on an episode of her show. It combines the ingredients you'd find in a Caprese salad: tomatoes, mozzarella and basil - to make a fun, colorful pasta dish. The flavor is fabulous - fresh, light and delicious even at room temperature!
Rotini alla Caprese
adapted from Giada de Laurentiis (via FoodNetwork.com)
1 pound rotini pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 1 1/2 pints)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced (about 1 1/4 cups)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
In a medium skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. As the tomatoes cook and soften, smash them with a fork. Continue to cook until the tomatoes make a chunky style sauce, about 4 minutes. Transfer the tomato sauce to the bowl with the pasta. Toss to combine. Add the basil leaves and mozzarella. Stir to combine. Add the reserved pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, until the pasta is moist.