Recipe: Orrechiette w/ Tomato Cream Sauce & Fresh Mozzarella

There's a dish at one of my favorite local restaurants, Piazza del Pane, called Gemelli Pasta that's made with Gemelli, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. My favorite thing about the dish, is how perfectly the little pieces of mozzarella go with a bite of pasta. They must wait to put the cheese into the dish until it's cooled slightly, because it's not all melted and stringy, but spaced throughout the dish in soft, half-melted bites -- that's what you want to do with my version of this dish too, so be sure you don't rush adding the cheese, you'll be glad you were patient -- I promise!

Orrechiette w/ Tomato Cream Sauce & Fresh Mozzarella

What you'll need:
  • 12 oz. orecchiette pasta
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 1medium sized can of tomato sauce (not spaghetti sauce, just the tomatoes)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 an onion, minced
  • 1 1/2 t. oregano (dried)
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella, cut into small, bite sized pieces
  • Fresh basil leaves (10-12) 

What to do:
  1. Prepare the pasta to al dente as directed on the package.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter together over medium heat in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Once warm and melted, add the garlic and onion. Stir.
  3. Cook garlic and onion until softened (about 5 minutes), do not allow to brown (turn down heat if necessary).
  4. Pour in the tomato sauce and stir in the seasonings.
  5. Toss the pasta with the sauce, and remove from heat.
  6. Allow the pasta to cool for 3-4 minutes before adding the pieces of mozzarella.
  7. Tightly roll the basil leaves together, then slice into then slices with a sharp knife (this technique is called "chiffonade cutting" for a visual how-to, check out this post from Vegan Yum Yum). 
  8. Toss the mozzarella with the pasta, and spoon into bowls. Top with basil and enjoy!





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