Friday, May 21, 2010

Taste of summer tomato basil pasta

checca-sauce (3)

With Memorial Day Weekend just around the corner, it's starting to feel like summer in New Jersey. Temperatures yesterday reached the 80s and the same is forecast for today (why do I ahve to go to the office?). It's too early for most Jersey crops, but that doesn't prevent me from wanting to savor the taste of summer. I planted a ton of basil this year and it's ready for picking. I also planted Swiss chard which we enjoyed for the first time on Wednesday. Last night, the basil was calling my name so I had to find a way to use it.


Weeknight meals can be a challenge in any household and not surprisingly, ours is no exception. On Thursdays I'm often at the office until 6 or later so getting dinner together usually requires advance prep (or leftovers). Last night however, I found the perfect recipe: a fresh pasta sauce that can be made in less time than it takes the water to boil (a LOT less time - think 3 minutes). What's more, it's like summer in a bowl and doesn't require any cooking. One bite and both Jeff and I agreed this one was going on the list of regular pasta dishes that appears in my kitchen.

checca-sauce (4)

I paired it with grilled Italian sausages, but the flavors could go with anything: grilled shrimp, chicken or pork or a juicy steak, I even considered breading some pork cutlets with parmesan and breadcrumbs to go with it, but decided to save that idea for a rainy day and use the grill instead.

I used pappardelle because I had half a package that I needed to use, but use your favorite. Also, in a moment that may shock my readers, I reduced the amount of garlic. Since it's raw, I only used 1 small clove - raw garlic doesn't not seem to mix with pregnancy too well... but have no fear, in about 8 weeks, it'll be back to a full dose of garlic (or more!) in every recipe!

Pappardelle with Checca Sauce
adapted from Everyday Italian by Giada DiLaurentiis

checca-sauce (2)

1 clove garlic
1 scallion, coarsely chopped
1 small handful fresh basil leaves
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, larger ones halved
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
4 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 pound pappardelle or your favorite pasta

Put water on to boil for the pasta.

While water is heating, put the scallion and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the tomatoes, basil, olive oil and parmesan. Pulse until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped (don't puree!).

Put the mozzarella in the bottom of a serving bowl and pour the sauce over it. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Scoop the cooked posta from the pot directly into the bowl of sauce and toss to combine. Add 1/4 cup or so of the cooking water as needed to achieve desired consistency. Serve immediately.

Note: this recipe can easily be doubled and used as a main course or to serve more than 2 people.


roxan said...

This looks a lot like a pasta dish I made earlier this week. Mind had zucchini though :)

Totally know what you mean about how hard it is to cook on weeknights. Sometimes if I can I'll do some of the prep work the night before. It really makes a difference.

Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks said...

I've seen a veggie meat loaf dish that she tops with checca sauce as well, and that is some good stuff! Of course it's great on pasta too.

C and C Dish said...

This is my kind of pasta dish...I love eating pasta, this looks delicious=}

Winelady Cooks said...

Love this dish and these types of pasta recipes. They are so easy to prepare and delicious.

Thanks for sharing.

Lyndsey @ I'm Lyndsey said...

Wow that looks delish and I could deff see me pairing it with grilled hot sausage! Or shrimp to be on the lighter side of things.

And yes, Jersey was GORGEOUS yesterday and today is shaping up pretty nice too (can't wait to get out of work!)

Mother Rimmy said...

What a fresh and simple pasta dish. You can't beat fresh basil!

The Cilantropist said...

I have made a pasta dish almost exactly like this before, and so I completely agree with you that the taste combo is awesome and the quick prep makes it even better. :) And so summery!

Magic of Spice said...

Looks like Spring:) Sounds great!

Anonymous said...

most certainly a summer dish... lovely pasta.

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