Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Perfect Summer Pasta Dish


We don't eat much pasta in the summer because it's often heavy, especially because I prefer cheesy pasta dishes or cream based sauces. But I stumbled upon
a recipe for a pasta dish (Epicurious) using an uncooked sauce of olive oil, vinegar, garlic, and herbs, and was intrigued by how light and fresh - almost refreshing - it sounded. I made it last night with just a few revisions.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Gemelli pasta
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (Fresh from my herb garden, but we used less - this would have been too much for our tastes)
  • 1 cup packed fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves
  • 1/2 pound lightly salted bocconcini mozzarella (these are bite-sized pieces of fresh mozzarella balls; I didn't have them so I cut fresh mozzarella into tiny pieces. Make sure you use fresh mozzarella as it will melt the best)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar, or to taste
  • 1 cup packed small arugula leaves (Didn't' use this - the herbs provided enough color and we had a ton of leftover veggies to finish)
  • ADDED: 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • ADDED: 1/2 tomato, chopped (on my pasta only)

Directions

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for pasta.
  • Cook pasta in boiling water, stirring occasionally, until al dente and ladle out and reserve pasta water. Drain pasta in a colander.
  • Mince garlic and chop herbs.
  • Quarter large bocconcini and halve smaller ones (or chop large fresh mozzarella into tiny pieces).
  • In a large bowl toss cheese with garlic, herbs, red pepper flakes, oil, and salt to taste.
  • Stir vinegar and arugula into cheese mixture
  • Add hot pasta and 1/4 cup reserved pasta water, gently tossing (and adding more pasta water as needed if mixture becomes dry) until combined well.

I did NOT need to use any of the reserved pasta water. I think the oil coated the pasta just fine, and any of the water may have diluted the flavor. Below is a picture of the finished product -

When serving the pasta, I topped mine with some chopped fresh tomato (pictured at top).

Jon was very, very hesitant about the uncooked sauce in this dish, but he loved it in the end, probably even more than I did! The raw garlic definitely gave the dish a punch - you must love garlic to enjoy this pasta! I think that if you are unsure about eating the garlic in raw form, you could toss it in a pan with some olive oil for about a minute or so. Jon had no problem with the raw garlic - he'll sometimes be eating it off the cutting board as I'm chopping it! (confession...so do I!)

Fresh herbs, especially in this quantity and use, give such a light and summery flavor to dishes. I will make this one again, and may play with the herbs, seasonings, and vegetables that I incorporate.

On Tuesday night we roasted a ton of veggies - summer squash, zucchini, red onion, green pepper, red pepper, garlic, tossed with olive oil, white truffle oil, Kosher salt, pepper flakes. I warmed them up tonight and served them alongside the pasta.

Print this post

2 comments:

Joelen said...

Looks great and so colorful. In the summer I prefer the lighter pasta salads as well - thanks for sharing!

Cate said...

This looks really good, and I LOVE garlic so I will have to give it a try!