When the weather warms up, I don’t want to spend a lot of time over a hot stove. The scary thing is it’s only May! I think we are in for a long, hot summer this year.
But one of the great things about the South’s warmer weather is all of the wonderful produce we now get to enjoy. From tomatoes and corn to fresh herbs and berries off the vine, it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to go from garden to plate with a delicious, easy meal.
Tonight, I’m skipping the meat and making a wonderfully simple – yet filling- summer pasta with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese. This dish tastes best when you use the highest quality olive oil and fresh mozzarella cheese you can find. And you’ll want to use fresh lemon juice, shallot, garlic and basil alongside your tomatoes…fresh ingredients really do make a difference in our Penne Caprese.
Friday nights are a great time to relax and unwind. Just open a bottle of your favorite wine, heat a loaf of crusty French bread and finish the meal with a scoop or two of lemon ice cream for dessert.
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 lbs of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 lb of penne pasta, cooked and drained
12 oz of high-quality fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, shallot and garlic in a large mixing bowl. Add tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Let sit about 20 minutes. Toss in the pasta and fresh mozzarella cheese. Gently fold in basil. Check again to see if you need more salt and pepper. Tastes great served warm, room temperature or refrigerated.