Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pasta Salad with Fresh Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil Pesto

I hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend!
Yesterday, I enjoyed a perfect day at the beach. The weather was gorgeous, the waves were spectacular, and the water was warm enough for me to get wet. But no, I did not go for a swim. Even if I have been here in Southern California for a few years now,  I like to stay with my feet in the sand. I grew up swimming in the warm and quiet Adriatic Sea, and I'm not yet used to huge waves and the big creatures that can be found around here, like dolphins, seals, and a shark now and then. One of the thing in my bucket list thou is learning to paddleboard, so I might have to get used to the ocean soon!
Yesterday, for my picnic lunch at the beach, I made this summery and wholesome pasta salad with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil pesto. This is the most classic of the Italian pasta salad. Great not only for picnics, but also perfect for your next potluck dinner or barbecue.
As I mentioned many times before, when the recipes only requires few ingredients, these should be extremely tasty and of great quality. My fresh tomatoes are from the local farmers market. The mozzarella is fresh, I bought mine from Trader Joe's. And the basil sauce is a very light homemade pesto, prepared with fresh basil, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and, if you like, a bit of garlic.
The basil I used is from my plant. Still the same I had more than a month ago. I know some of you were concerned about its well being, but as you can see, it's looking good and still alive!! Well, maybe it needs some  water right now :)

Ingredients: serving 4

  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 3-4 fresh tomatoes
  • one bunch of basil leaves
  • 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese
  • half garlic clove - optional
  • salt and pepper
  • 12 oz of pasta, I used Barilla farfalle pasta

Preparation time: 20 minutes


Step 1: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta following the directions on the box. While the water boils and the pasta cooks, we can prepare the sauce for the farfalle.
Wash and cut the tomatoes in small cubes. Add to a large bowl and season with salt, and pepper if you like.
Step 2: Prepare a light pesto sauce: combine the oil, basil, salt and garlic (if you use it) in a processor and pulse until chopped. Add the Parmesan cheese and mix well. Add some olive oil if the sauce is too dense.
Step 3: Drain the pasta when ready, and run it under cold tap water for a minute. This will prevent the pasta from overcooking. The pasta should be al dente, right? Add to the bowl with the tomatoes, add the pesto sauce, and mix well.
Step 4: Cut the mozzarella cheese in small cubes, and if the pasta is cold, add to the pasta, and mix one more time. You don't want the mozzarella to melt!
And that's all :)
 Buon Appetito!

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