March 19, 2012

Whole Grain Penne with Tomatoes, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella

This summer weather (in March) has been unbelievable!  I think that's why I've been pulling out some of our summertime favorites, like this meatless penne pasta.  It's so light and fresh tasting, with that wonderful flavor of basil.  It's best in the summer when garden tomatoes are at their prime, but I did find some Romas at the store today that were actually very good.  I also picked up a decent looking basil plant because I was too impatient to wait for the nurseries to get them in.  There's just no comparison to the taste of fresh basil!  I'm so glad my hubby enjoys meatless meals like this, but it would be great with grilled chicken too!

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
8 ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped
1-1/2 pounds whole grain penne pasta
8 to 10 large fresh basil leaves, shredded
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fresh mozzarella, cubed
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan

Heat a large stockpot of salted water for the pasta.  In a large skillet, heat 1/2 cup of olive oil over medium low heat.  Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute or less, being careful not to burn it.  Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.  When the water has come to a rapid boil, add penne and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.  Drain pasta then add it to the skillet with the tomatoes and toss well.  Season to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Add the fresh mozzarella and shredded basil and mix to combine.  Serve in bowls and sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan.  Serves 6-8

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