I sometimes forget how unappealing food is for me during the summer. Here in Redding, CA; the temps can soar and it just leaves me thirsty and craving the lightest of light foods with very crisp and fresh ingredients.
I thought I'd switch things up a little bit and share with you one of my favorite foods, step by step!
Tonight I've made a cold tomato mozzarella basil salad for you! Well, technically it's for my mom, but I'll gladly share with you!
First lets gather our ingredients:
- 1 lb pasta of your choice, I've used a farfalle tricolore because thats what we had in the fridge.
- Tomatoes more or less to your liking. We are big on tomatoes here so I used 5 smaller sizes ones.
- Mozzarella balls! I used an entire package that was 8 oz.
- 1/2 a tablespoon coarse kosher salt + 1/4 salt, divided
- 2 cloves of garlic that have been finely minced
- Fresh basil to your liking
- Good quality olive oil. This is important because there isn't a heavy sauce or anything to hid behind.
Start by filling your pan with water and 1/2 tablespoon of salt. Cover and then set on high to boil.
While the water is heating, cut the mozzarella in halves. Make sure you drain them :)
Cut your tomatoes into quarters. If they seem on the large side, cut them into chunks. This is really an easy, improv, make it up as you go recipe! Pinkie swear! At the same time, mince your garlic and chop your basil!
Once your water starts a rolling boil, add your pasta. NOW. THIS IS IMPORTANT. Keep an EYE on your pasta. To me and my snobby self, I don't do mushy pasta. My family is pro at al dente pasta. It takes a little bit of learning, tasting and watching, but once you get it, you'll cringe at mushy pasta. Al dente simply is a way of cooking the pasta so its firm but completely cooked, so not hard or fall apart in your mouth mush. There is nothing wrong with scooping up a piece here and there and testing it!
I've found that if you can cook normal semolina pasta al dente, you have a better chance of really enjoying alternative grain pastas such as quinoa, corn, rice and whole wheat. Each pasta has its own learning curve and who complains after having to try different types? ;)
Once your pasta is al dente take it out, drain it and rinse it under cold water. The only time you should rinse pasta is in a cold dish, it stops it from cooking and also rinsing the starch away so your pasta doesn't cling together into a giant chunk.
Now is the fun part! Toss the pasta with the garlic, tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and add a splash of extra virgin olive oil. You want it to delicately grace the pasta, not drench and soak it.
Voila! A super light, clean tasting, amazing summer dinner! I usually make mine an hour before I plan on eating it so it'll absorb all the basily garlicy goodness! You can also add some balsamic vinegar to this as well!