On Friday, I accompanied my son and his fourth grade class on a trip to Jamestown and Williamsburg. Now imagine that – a three hour bus trip, each way, with a bunch of rowdy fourth graders – yeah…. I admit that I did enjoy myself and we all learned so many neat facts, not only about Virginia’s history (which is largely U.S. history), but also about etiquette and everyday life back in the 1600’s & 1700’s. I would highly recommend visiting either of these places if you get a chance (Williamsburg is more fun and educational though — just sayin’).
Anyway, back to the food! Penne with tomatoes and mozzarella is one of my favorite dishes. Not only is it a cinch to make, it can be served cold or at room temperature which means it travels well. Not only is this recipe substantial and healthy, it also tastes delicious! Who needs a Lunchable’s, right?
Part of what is great about this recipe is that you can just eyeball all of the ingredients and make adjustments according to your preferences. If you like more cheese, then by all means, add it. If you don’t like tomatoes, replace them with roasted red peppers or katamala olives. I would recommend, however, starting off with just a couple tablespoons of oil. If the pasta seems too dry, add a little more. You don’t want there to be a lot of excess oil at the bottom of your serving dish, just enough to coat the pasta; tomatoes; and mozzarella.
This dish is so light and fresh that you forget about all of the oil you just bathed the penne in. Hey, at least you are eating ‘healthy’ fat, right? What I love about this dish is the subtle garlic flavor from the infused oil that complements the delicate flavor of the mozzarella. Just as important as flavor, and aesthetics, is texture. I love the slightly firm texture of the mozzarella and that little bite from the al dente penne; but the best texture of all is that little burst of the tomato as it is bitten into. It’s like fireworks in your mouth – pure perfection!
- ½ lb (about ½ a box) mini penne
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 8 – 10 oz mozzarella, cubed
- ⅓ C extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Cook penne in boiling, well salted, water for 7 minutes or until al dente; drain
- Lightly smash garlic to release oils
- In a small skillet, heat oil and garlic over medium low heat for about 5 minutes; allowing the garlic’s flavor to infuse the oil. Carefully watch the garlic, do not allow it to burn; remove garlic clove
- Combine penne and garlic oil; allow to cool
- Meanwhile, rinse tomatoes; cube mozzarella; and mince parsley
- Once the penne and garlic oil have cooled, add tomatoes; mozzarella; and parsley
- Toss to combine