20-minute Caprese Pasta [recipe]

One thing’s become clear in the last week: Toronto can’t decide if she’s clinging to summer or jumping headfirst into fall. I leave my house bundled in layers each morning and find myself “glowing” in a rather unladylike fashion on the walk back to my car at night, my wardrobe choices foiled by unseasonably warm temps. Chloe’s not complaining – she gets to run around in the leaves while basking in the sunshine, her two favourite activities.

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Luckily, this extra bout of warm weather has also meant clinging to the tastes of summer. Yesterday, we made one of my favourite fresh, summery dishes for lunch and I couldn’t help but snap a few pics so I could share it with you today. It’s one of the simplest meals to whip together – especially since you can prep it the night before – and the flavours speak for themselves. It’s also a great make-to-impress meal for that all-important first dinner date at home.

Caprese Pasta

20-minute Caprese Pasta

This pasta looks mighty-impressive but takes less than half an hour to pull together. You’re at the mercy of how quickly you can chop all the ingredients & boil water, really. As a student at Queen’s, this was one of my favourite meals to pull together to feel fancy with minimal effort. Enjoy!

What you’ll need:

  • Fresh mozzarella, 1 ball per 2-4 people (a good-quality buffalo mozzarella or fior di latte is what you want here. Make sure it’s packed in water and soft. In a pinch, bocconcini will do)
  • Tomatoes, 1-2 per person
  • Salt, enough to season and salt the pasta water
  • Olive oil, about 1/4 – 1/2 cup
  • Garlic, to taste (1-2 cloves)

Caprese Salad ingredients

How to: 

  1. If eating immediately, boil a pot of well-salted water for the pasta as you prep the mozzarella/tomato mixture.
  2. Cube tomatoes & fresh mozzarella and place into a large bowl. Season with salt and drizzle 1/4 cup or so of olive oil on top. Crush garlic cloves & add to the bowl. Mix well. If making ahead, cover tightly with saran wrap and place in the fridge until ready to use. If eating immediately, allow the mixture to rest on the counter while the pasta cooks.
  3. Cook pasta according to directions in a pot of well-salted water. Spaghetti works well here.
  4. Drain pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water. Toss pasta with mozzarella/tomato mixture, adding cooking water as/if needed
  5. Evenly distribute pasta mixture in bowls. Top with a drizzle of olive oil & fresh basil. Serve immediately.

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As the pasta warms the tomato/mozzarella mixture, the fresh mozzarella will melt slightly making it all the more heavenly. You may find yourself slurping the delicious tomato/mozzarella/olive oil/pasta water “juice” that collects at the bottom of the bowls – it’s that good. If you find yourself with too much of the tomato/mozzarella mixture on hand, don’t add it all into the pasta. Instead, keep it in the fridge and make bruschetta with it the next day. You could also add it to your lunchtime salads for a bit of extra pizzazz.

Serve with a glass of full-bodied red wine and add some prosciutto crudo and fresh figs as an appetizer to make it a full meal.