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CSA Week 10, and Pasta Caprese

August 18, 2009
tags: ,

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We just keep rockin’ and rollin’ with the great CSA produce here…last week’s share included cucumbers, swiss chard, carrots, a tomato, yellow squash, zucchini, garlic, field greens, a big bunch of beautiful basil, onions, Japanese eggplant (woo!), blue pattypan squash, and two adorable little lemon cucumbers! (they’re just to the right of the tomato in the picture above.)

And our fruit share: apricots, peaches and blueberries…I could die a happy woman.

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As much as I’ve been rejoicing lately about the arrival of stone fruit on the summer produce scene, these past two weeks have marked the arrival of the other fruit I most eagerly anticipate for the summer growing season: heirloom tomatoes!! While I was in Ithaca during college, the Farmer’s Market was actually the first place I discovered that these beautiful tomato varieties existed — far, far different from the uniform and bland red tomatoes of my suburban supermarket youth. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that it was like a whole new world was opened up to me…green, purple, red-and-yellow-marbled; when I bit into a slice of one, it was as though I was tasting Tomato for the first time in my life.

beautiful! I especially loved the green one.

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luscious, luscious, luscious

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My Seasonal Cooking article in the summer issue of Edible Finger Lakes magazine is all about heirloom tomatoes, in fact! You can read the article online here, but you’ll have to pick up a copy in person (or better yet, subscribe!) to get the recipes I developed for the article — Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho and Marinated Heirloom Tomato Salad. While you’re on the Edible Finger Lakes web site, do take a look at the other articles in the summer issue; there’s some terrific writing about the return of the forbidden black currant, and why we can’t easily buy local fish here in the Finger Lakes.

But the recipe I do want to share with you today is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite summer dishes. It’s versatile — good eaten hot or cold — comes together in a snap, and just tastes of the essence of summer. Many of you, like me, probably love to eat simple Caprese salads when tomatoes are in season; there’s nothing better than ripe, sliced tomato eaten with fresh mozzarella, basil, some sea salt and extra-virgin olive oil. Mmm.

Add a little garlic and pasta to that mixture and you have Pasta Caprese:

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toss together juicy tomato chunks, slivered basil, garlic, olive oil, and nubs of fresh mozzarella

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add drained, cooled pasta and finish with some grated Parmesan

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I first started making this dish in college, actually, with tomatoes that I grew in my family’s garden while I was home on break over the summer. It was originally a recipe in Cooking Light magazine, but I since have adapted it a little — using slightly more olive oil and really amping up the amount of tomatoes — and I love it even more now.

You can make this hot, prepping all the ingredients while the pasta cooks and then tossing everything together with the hot pasta. The cheese melts into little gooey blobs, the tomatoes and garlic and basil get nicely warmed up, and it’s a hot mouthful of heaven.

Just don’t make it hot then cool it down to serve cold the next day – let’s just say congealed melted mozzarella is not so great.

The way I’ve been making it lately is as a cold pasta salad, and it’s perfect for picnics or to bring to a potluck – everyone likes these flavors! Just cook your pasta, but then drain it and cool it thoroughly before tossing it with your tomato/basil/garlic/olive oil/mozzarella mixture.

It’s so, so good.

dig right in

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Pasta Caprese

Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

view printable recipe

Ingredients

1 pound chunky pasta, preferably a shape that has some grooves or ridges
6-7 cups ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups basil, thinly sliced
1 cup (4 ounces) fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic,  minced
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Cook pasta in a large pot of well-salted boiling water. Drain and rinse to cool thoroughly (I know rinsing pasta is usually a no-no, but I find it works the best in this situation to stop the cooking process and get the pasta cooled quickly.)

Meanwhile, chop your tomatoes, mozzarella and basil; place in a large bowl. Whisk together the olive oil, sea salt, minced garlic and plenty of freshly ground black pepper; toss with the tomato mixture.

Add the cooked, cooled pasta to the bowl and toss to combine. Add the Parmesan cheese and gently mix to combine.

Serve at room temperature, or store in the fridge if you’re not going to serve it right away.

Makes 6-8 servings

17 Comments leave one →
  1. Allison permalink
    August 18, 2009 7:16 pm

    Sadly, our CSA farm in CT was hit by the late blight this summer, so the only tomatoes we’re getting are from the greenhouse.😦 But hopefully we can scrape together enough to make this yummy-looking dish. Thanks!

    • August 30, 2009 4:46 pm

      Allison – the late blight plight is terrible, isn’t it? Our CSA was recently hit, as well — so I don’t think we’ll be getting too many more this year.

  2. August 18, 2009 7:18 pm

    beautiful photos, so inviting and really showcase the wonderful colors of nature and vegetables. great work, thanks

  3. August 18, 2009 7:51 pm

    This looks delicious! I might have to make this as my lunch tomorrow~

  4. Maggie permalink
    August 18, 2009 9:28 pm

    Great article, Amy! I can’t wait to see (and try) your gazpacho recipe!

  5. Betsy permalink
    August 18, 2009 11:24 pm

    Yum, yum, yum! And your tomato article is great too!

  6. August 19, 2009 9:55 am

    Beautiful job capturing the visual interest of the veggies and fruits. I always love seeing the recaps of people’s CSA shares. Does your share work that you automatically get all of those items or did you choose them yourself?

    • August 30, 2009 4:47 pm

      Hi Kelly – we get a box delivered for our share, mainly due to geographic convenience.🙂 If we were in fact to go to the farm for pick-up, we could choose them ourselves. We’ve done that in the past with another CSA, and loved it!

  7. August 19, 2009 1:07 pm

    Gorgeous, tomatoes! And, this is my favorite thing to do with pasta.

  8. August 19, 2009 1:36 pm

    I too was lucky enough to come home with some beautiful farmer’s market multi-colored heirloom tomatoes. I ended up making a Julie Powell inspired bruschetta out of them, but this would have been a fabulous alternative for the leftover tomato mixture I had lying around.

    For ideas on what to do with your next CSA load, chime in on our shopping bag challenge, and we’ll do some brainstorming for you!

    http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/2009/08/whats-in-bag-we-have-banner.html

  9. August 19, 2009 3:26 pm

    How funny, I was thinking of making something like this last night, but never got around to it. And now I have a recipe! Thank you!

  10. August 23, 2009 8:35 am

    Help! Our small garden is doing very well this year and we are currently overrun with Cubanelle peppers! Do you have some inspiration for me? What can I do with them?

    • August 30, 2009 4:49 pm

      Hi – I’m afraid I’m not much of an expert on using Cubanelles…but they’re not hot, right? There’s always stuffing them, tossing them onto a pizza, or pickling them. Also, I often dice or slice and freeze raw peppers when they’re in season for use during the winter…not quite the same as raw when they’re thawed, but they’re great for using in cooked dishes!

  11. August 25, 2009 11:42 am

    That is hands-down one of my favorite meals! It hits the spot every single time—so long as the tomatoes are in season and fresh. I also like to add a bit of spice, either cayenne pepper or some fresh hot pepper, minced.

  12. August 25, 2009 8:36 pm

    What amazing, gorgeous heirloom tomatoes! Especially the one that’s green on the outside and swirled red on the inside.

    Our summer has been pretty cool here in Minnesota so the heirloom tomatoes I planted didn’t bear much fruit. I’m hoping there will be more in my CSA box this week.

    Thanks for the recipe idea!

  13. August 26, 2009 12:55 pm

    Oh wow. That is glorious in so many ways!

  14. JenniferP permalink
    August 28, 2009 9:57 pm

    Beautiful! I am so glad I stumbled across your site.

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