Nothing quite compares to peak summer tomatoes. We love celebrating their sweetness by cooking them down in loads of olive oil, adding vinegar, tossing them with cooked pasta, and stirring in fresh basil and mozzarella cheese pearls. This tastes great, both warm and at room temperature.
A Simple Meal That Sings With Good Ingredients
This is one of those recipes that will only be as good as the ingredients you use.
- Tomatoes: Look for cherry tomatoes that are uniform in color, have a tomatoey smell, and feel heavy for their size. If cherry tomatoes aren’t looking good, use chopped beefsteak or plum tomatoes, and cook them until they break down.
- Fresh mozzarella: If mozzarella cheese isn’t available, try a fresh farmer’s cheese with a mild flavor similar to mozzarella cheese.
- Olive oil: Extra-virgin olive oil runs the gamut of flavor, from fruity to pepper to bitter. My favorite brand of olive oil is California Olive Ranch Medium; it has the perfect amount of fruitiness and grassiness without being overwhelming.
Make It Your Own
- Sauté pancetta or bacon with the tomatoes for a salty flavor boost.
- Swap the red wine vinegar with white balsamic vinegar for a slightly sweeter flavor profile.
- Use your favorite short pasta shapes, such as orecchiette or penne.
Cook the pasta:
Bring 4 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of the salt to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Stir in the farfalle and cook according to package directions until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
Cook the tomatoes:
While pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Add the tomatoes, pepper, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes begin to burst, about 3 minutes. Stir in the vinegar. Cook, stirring often, until the sauce thickens slightly and the tomatoes begin to break down, about 6 minutes.
Assemble the pasta salad:
Stir the tomato mixture into the bowl with pasta and toss to coat. Stir in mozzarella pearls and basil. Top with additional black pepper, if desired.
You can refrigerate the pasta salad for up to 3 days. For the best flavor, let it sit at room temperature before serving.
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