This pasta recipe really straddles the line between “pasta dish” and “pasta salad,” since it’s great whether you serve it warm or cold.
▢ 6 ounces (2 cups) whole grain fusilli or rotini pasta
▢ ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
▢ 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
▢ ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
▢ 8 ounces mozzarella “pearls”, or one mozzarella ball, torn into bite-sized pieces
▢ Several sprigs of fresh basil (enough for 2+ tablespoons chopped)
▢ 2 to 3 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar or regular balsamic vinegar, to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, combine the olive oil, tomatoes and salt in a large, non-reactive skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cover the skillet (use a baking sheet if you don’t have a better lid). Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the tomatoes have started to burst out of their skins and the olive oil has a light red hue (about 6 to 12 minutes).
- Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the cooked pasta. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes while you chop the basil. We don’t want the cheese to melt on contact, so wait to proceed to the next step until your pasta is lightly warm (not hot).
- Stir the mozzarella balls and basil into the pasta. Add the vinegar, then taste and add additional vinegar and/or salt, if it doesn’t quite taste spectacular yet. For best flavor, let the mixture rest for about 20 minutes, so the pasta can absorb some of the sauce. Or, refrigerate it for future use.
- This salad will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Leftovers are great chilled or at room temperature. You can also reheat the pasta if you don’t mind the mozzarella melting (yum).