A dear friend of mine shared this recipe from her Italian grandmother with me a few months ago and it became an instant classic in my family. It is absolutely one of the freshest and most flavorful pasta dishes I’ve had AND it’s amazingly simple to make.
So without further ado,
Nonna Lia’s Pasta
Serves about 4
About 8oz of pasta (I prefer bow tie or fusilli)
4 or 5 vine tomatoes
A handful of fresh basil (this is all very technical, as you can see)
Two medium cloves of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Low moisture mozzerella cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large pot, bring enough water to cover the tomatoes to a rolling boil, but make sure not to add the tomatoes until the water is boiling.
While you are waiting for the water to boil, very finely mince the cloves of garlic and chop the basil. Add them both to a medium sized mixing bowl and cover with olive oil. I was never given proper amounts for anything (my favorite recipes are ones you fine tune yourself, anyway) but I would guess about 1/3 cup of olive oil or so should do the trick. Mix the basil and garlic into the olive oil well and let it sit. This is also a good time to chop about a cup of mozzarella into small-ish cubes. (Again with the specificity.)
Once you add the tomatoes to the boiling water, watch them very carefully- as soon as you see them begin to split (should only take 3 or 4 minutes), remove them from the pot and let them cool. Do not dump out the tomato water!
Open a bottle of wine.
While the tomatoes are cooling, add a generous amount of salt to the tomato water in the pot and return to a boil. Add the pasta when the water begins to boil again. In the meantime, peel the skin off your tomatoes (it should come off very easily) and quarter them vertically. Scoop the seeds and slimy stuff out and chop what remains into rough chunks. Once your tomatoes are skinned, gutted and chunked (doesn’t that sound nice?), add them to the olive oil, garlic and basil mixture you set aside. Salt and pepper the sauce to taste.
Once the pasta is tender, drain it in a colander and return it to the pot. Promptly pour the tomato sauce over the pasta and mix well. Once it has all had a chance to cool, mix in the cubes of mozzarella. Salt to taste and promptly.