LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WE HAVE A (new) winner for dinner. And it couldn’t be easier to make.
Inspired by a lunch in the country this summer, tonight I made a simple supper…and it worked. For babies under a year, some say you should limit raw tomatoes but at nearly 16 months Phoebe is well beyond that mark, and lucky for me a tomato fiend. She popped half a dozen of these little guys into her mouth before I could get the pasta water boiling.
You could use any kind of small tomato, cherry, grape or whatever is sweet and in season. Ditto for the cheese. I used provolone tonight because I had a fresh block right in the fridge. Of course mozzarella would probably be even better.
Penne with fresh tomatoes, basil and cheese
Feeds two adults and one baby with leftovers (if you’re big eaters or a bigger family, just double everything)
1/2 pound whole wheat penne pasta
3/4 pound cherry or grape tomatoes or two pints, cut in half
1/2 bunch basil (about 1 cup julienned or torn)
6-8 oz. provolone or mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/2 cup very good extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
Put on the water for the pasta. When it reaches a boil, add 2 tablespoons of salt. It’ll infuse the pasta with flavor but the amount of salt you’re eating will be less than adding a heap at the end.
While the water is on, cut the tomatoes in half and dice the cheese. Either tear or julienne the basil.
Cook the pasta according to package instructions and drain well. I always stop at al dente — which literally means “to the tooth” in Italian–and otherwise means the pasta’s still a little chewy but definitely not crunchy. But do as you like.
Put the drained pasta back in the big pasta pan (which should still be quite warm) then add the fresh ingredients, oil, salt and pepper. The heat of the pasta will slightly melt the cheese while warming the tomatoes and basil just enough to bring out their full flavor.
Fill a plate or bowl and add more olive oil, salt and/or pepper to taste.
This one was a huge hit for Phoebe at 15 months who loves finger food more than any other. Just don’t forget the bib. Or be surprised if they go back for more.