If Summertime needed an official pasta dish, I vote for this Penne Pasta Caprese with pearl mozzarella balls, blistered cherry tomatoes, lots of garlic, basil and fresh arugula. Not only is it packed with summer fresh produce, it is served warm. It is not hot, nor cold so it is just right for evenings when it is too hot for a steaming bowl of pasta, yet you want something a bit more meal-like than a chilled pasta salad. And the best part is that it only takes 30 minutes to get it on the table!
Coarse kosher salt to taste
12 ounces dry penne pasta (3 cups)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Pinch red pepper flake, optional
2 pints cherry tomatoes, preferably a blend of colors and varieties, cut in half
1 8 ounce container drained pearl mozzarella or Ciliegine mozzarella cut into quarters
4 cups arugula, washed and spun dry and roughly chopped if large
½ loosely packed cup roughly chopped basil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions for al dente. Quickly rinse with cool water, drain well and transfer to a large bowl.
- When pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes if using. Cook, stirring, until it is fragrant and just starting to brown, about 30 seconds. Add cherry tomatoes, and cook, stirring often, until they are starting to soften and the skins are wrinkled and starting to loosen, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and hold until the pasta is done.
- When the pasta is rinsed, rewarm the cherry tomatoes just until the tomato mixture is bubbling. Remove from the heat and add to the cooked pasta. Add in mozzarella, arugula and basil, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Season with black pepper and serve.
Feel free to use whole wheat pasta or your favorite gluten-free pasta. Or for more protein use Chickpea Penne Pasta.
If you cannot find pearl mozzarella, you can buy the slightly larger ciliegnie and cut the balls into quarters. Or you can buy a large ball and dice it if necessary.
Leftovers can be enjoyed cold or hot. This can be reheated, 1 serving at a time in the microwave for about 2 minutes. The arugula will wilt and the cheese will be melted too.
- Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
- Calories: 388 cals
- Sugar: 7 g
- Fat: 24 g
- Carbohydrates: 35 g
- Fiber: 4 g
- Protein: 11 g