I’m not fancy. I’m fairly sure everything featured so far has been more than do-able for the home cook. And what could be simpler than Caprese? Sweet, juicy tomatoes, cool, creamy mozzarella, and that bright, sunny basil. Really, what could possibly make it better? Well, ladies and gentlemen, that would be the answer to all life’s problems: carbs.
I’m lookin’ at you, you bacon people. Bacon is great and all, but I hate to break it to you, bacon does not go with everything. Nobody wants bacon in their cookies. Oh shit, that’s right, those cookies are really good. Okay, well let’s just call truce and kiss and make up over a bacon sandwich.
So because I’m such a fabulous mother, I have a standing date with my son at the train park. (Oh, who am I kidding, it’s all Tom’s idea. I’m just in it for the ice cream and eye candy. Hello Suburban Daddies.) And so while everyone else is digging into their buckets o’ chicken and boxes of pizza, I’m a good homemaker for my little broken family. Last week was empanadas, this week was my jacked-up Caprese. Now if only I got to actually sit down and eat it with Tom–Parker’s more interested cruising the sidewalk on his trike checking out girls, which means I get to chase. (No exaggeration. He runs into things because he’s so busy oggling.)
But honestly, this little gem is as good as it is simple. I’ve been making it since high school, so it’s been making appearances on my table (and picnic blanket) for YEARS. But the best part of it? My grandma’s reaction to it the first time I made it. “What is this white stuff, tofu?”
Apparently, not everyone realizes that cheese comes other forms besides white, rubber blocks. My friends, please help spread the word.
Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
adapated from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Family Style
1/2 pound fusilli pasta (I used whole wheat this particular time.)
1 pound (grape) tomatoes
3/4 cup pitted, chopped kalamata olives (Tom doesn’t eat olives, which is why you don’t see them in the pictures.)
1 pound fresh mozzarella
1 cup, packed, fresh basil
6 oil packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 cup grated Parm Reg
5 oil packed sun dried tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove (halve it if it’s huge)
Toss the cheese into the freezer to firm up. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Put the second set of ingredients into a mini-food processor or blender and whir until almost smooth. Chop your tomatoes into a half inch dice or so, or halve your grape tomatoes.* Throw into a large bowl. Add the olives. When your water’s up to a full boil, add some salt and the pasta and cook according to package directions. Pull the cheese out and dice. (Freezing it for 10 minutes or so helps it firm up to make it easier to cut.) Add to the bowl. When the pasta’s done, drain it and rinse with cold water. If you’re Crazy like me, spin dry in a salad spinner. (No one likes a watered down green salad, why would you want a diluted pasta salad?) Add to the bowl, tear the basil and grate the cheese over, pour the dressing over, and toss. Taste for seasoning, and then eat the rest.
*If you’re extra lazy like me, halve them like this: take the lid of your yogurt or something and cram as many of those little suckers into the top as you can. Find another lid about the same size and place on top. Slide your knife between the two and ta-da! Halved tomatoes. (Thanks, Sue.) I’m pretty shitty with words, so you might want to refer to that first photo collage up there.