Here, the soft, small mozzarella balls are cut in half so they melt throughout the dish of pasta. The combination of the sweet, tangy tomato sauce with the crunchy, buttery pine nuts and soft, oozing mozzarella makes a very special eating experience.
This pasta dish is easy and inexpensive to make. It is a dish that is rich in protein and carbohydrates, making it a wonderful one-dish meal. A simple green salad or crudités with small bowls of extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt for dipping served alongside is perfect, and a crisp dry white wine like Greghetto or a Pinot Grigio makes the meal complete.
SERVES 4 - 6
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
10 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped, plus more whole leaves for garnish
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound dried short pasta (such as penne or campanelle)
15 small balls fresh mozzarella, halved
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, basil, and garlic.
2. Cook until the tomatoes are soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente; drain well, then transfer the pasta to the sauté pan with the sauce. Add the mozzarella balls and toss to combine them with the tomato sauce and pasta. Add the pine nuts and toss. Add the salt and mix again.
4. Serve immediately on a large oval platter, garnished with large basil leaves.