Almost everyone knows and loves the classic Caprese salad, also known solely as ‘Caprese’, this fresh dish consists primarily of soft Mozzarella cheese, ripe Tomatoes, and fragrant Basil, finished with salt, pepper, and often drizzled with extra virgin Olive Oil, this salad dish is simple, yet sophisticated, and always full of the classic flavours of Italy. I was inspired by this fresh dish, and so I wanted to make a pasta version of it, but transforming it into a warm pasta dish, with gooey mozzarella, blistered grape tomatoes, and all the flavours we love in a traditional Caprese. Much like the salad, this pasta dish is so simple to make, requiring just a few simple ingredients, a little preparation, and we are that much closer to one of my favourite summer time pasta dishes. You can of course use any pasta you like, from spaghetti to rigatoni, but I used Fusilli because I wanted that lovely olive oil to get trapped in all those curly ‘cork screw-like’ ridges. If you would like to see how I make it, you can watch my YouTube video HERE.
– 300/350 G of your pasta of choice (I used Fusilli)
– 1/4 cup of extra virgin Olive Oil + 2 tbsp (for later)
– 1 large Garlic clove (you can omit this step if you chose, or you can add more)
– 280 G of Grape (or Cherry) Tomatoes (approx 24)
– 200 G Bocconcini (baby mozzarella) approx 9/10 balls
– 15g Basil (a large bunch, approx 25 leaves)
– Salt + Pepper (add as much as you like, also be sure to salt your pasta water)
– Parmigiano Reggiano (as much as you like to top your pasta with)
– Place a large pot of salted water on the stove top, cover with a lid (to boil faster) and set it on high.
– While the pasta water is coming to a boil, begin slicing your ingredients. I cut and quartered my garlic clove, you can leave it whole, or finely mince your garlic if you prefer. Add the garlic to a large pan.
– Cut the grape tomatoes in half, squeeze a bit of the seeds/juice out (this is optional, but I find the seeds to occasionally be a bit bitter). Discard the seeds/juice, and add the tomato halfs into the pan of garlic.
– Add 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil to this pan of garlic and tomatoes, along with a bit of salt and pepper. Then place this pan over a medium to low heat, stirring occasionally. You will notice the tomatoes eventually will burst and blister, and that is what we want. If this happens too quickly you can lower your heat, or you can remove the pan from the heat all together. Once the tomatoes are done, you can fish out the garlic and set the pan aside until you need it.
– In the mean time, cut up the mozzarella balls, I used bocconcini because they are already small, and I usually half, or in this case quarter them. Set them aside until you need them.
– Then cut the basil, I sliced the basil using a ‘chiffonade’ technique, by stacking all the basil leaves on top of each other, rolling them up like you would a cigar, and then thinly slicing the stack into thin ribbons. You could always just tare the basil, or roughly chop it, however you prefer. Set the basil aside until you need it.
– At some point your pasta water will come to a boil, place the pasta in and follow the directions on the bag. I usually under cook my pasta because I like it to be al dente (meaning it has some bite to it), and the pasta will cook a tiny bit further in the pan, so you can under cook it by 1 or 2 minutes. Usually a minute before I drain the pasta, I reserve about a cup of pasta water, just in case I want to add a few tablespoons of the starchy pasta water to the final pasta dish, I use at least a tablespoon or so.
– Once your pasta is drained, and your tomatoes are cooked to your liking, you can remove those garlic chunks, then add the pasta to the pan. Give it a good mix to scoop up that lovely garlic infused oil. You can then complete this dish in the pan, adding the quartered bocconcini. Mix until the cheese gets gooey and melted (if you need to return your pan to the stove top to melt the cheese, go ahead.
– Once your cheese looks melty, add the sliced ribbons of basil, and more salt (if needed), along with about 2 tbsp of extra virgin Olive Oil (I like to add fresh, uncooked oil to finish this dish, to reinforce that fresh flavour). I usually add about 1 tbsp per person – in this case the pasta was for 2, hence I added 2 tbsp of fresh olive oil.
– One your pasta is in the delicious tomato, oil, gooey mozzarella, and basil, you can then plate it in a large bowl, family style, like I did, and top it with some Parmigiano cheese, or plate it per person, and then finely grade cheese over this dish if you like (I LOVE Parmigiano). I occasionally reserve a few basil leaves to place on top as a nice way of plating this warm summer pasta dish. You can even reserve a few chunks of the mozzarella (bocconcini) for plating as well (see photo below).
– As you can see, I’m trying to be very thorough in explaining so this may seem like a lot goes into it, but it virtually takes only minutes to prepare from start to finish. The fresh flavours of this dish are absolutely delicious without being over complicated. This is a perfect quick and easy summer dish, you and your loved ones are sure to love it!
If you would like to see exactly how I made this dish, please watch my YouTube video HERE.
I hope you enjoy this recipe, and if you do make it, let me know by leaving me a comment on here, or on my YouTube video, or by tagging me on Instagram (using the hashtag #LaDolceLisaRecipe – If your page is open), I’d love to see your creations!
– Lisa (@LaDolceLisa)