America’s Test Kitchen
We often eat this as a main course with a side salad, but this is also a great side dish to take somewhere in the summer. You could add chicken if you want, but that might take away from the simple, but delicious flavors of the dressing. This is especially yummy when you use homegrown summer tomatoes. Don’t even try to make it with canned tomatoes, as it will become a COMPLETELY different dish!
America’s Test Kitchen recommends cubing the cheese and freezing it for about 10 minutes, so that the cheese remains in cubes rather than melting onto the hot pasta, but in the picture above, I simply shredded the cheese in my food processor and added it as the pasta had cooled a little bit, and it still turned out great.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2-4 tsp juice from 1 lemon (I usually add a little more than this)
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1/2 tsp or 1 tsp if you really like garlic)
1 small shallot, minced fine (I usually substitute red onion since I rarely have shallots)
1 1/2 lbs ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch dice (I don’t core or seed it)
12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I just use an 8 oz. block of part skim mozz.)
1 lb short tubular or curly pasta, such as penne, fusilli, or campanelle
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tsp sugar (this is mainly needed if the tomatoes are not super sweet homegrown.)
salt and pepper
1. Whisk the oil, 2 tsp of lemon juice, garlic, shallt, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper together in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes and gently toss to combine; set aside. Do not marinate the tomatoes for longer than 45 minutes.
2. While the tomatoes are marinating, place the mozzarella on a plate and freeze until slightly firm, about 10 minutes. Bring 4 quarts water to a rolling boil in a stockpot. Add 1 Tbs salt and the pasta, stir to separate, and cook until al dente. Drain well.
3. Add the pasta and mozzarella to the tomato mixture and gently toss to combine. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in the basil; season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice or sugar, if desired, and serve immediately.
If it tastes a little bland, it probably just needs some extra salt!