Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Penne Pasta with Basil and Fresh Mozzarella

About a decade ago, my parents took a trip to New York, New York! They dined at an Italian restaurant, the name of which neither one of them remembers. My mom created the following family favorite based on the memory of a dish she had at that restaurant.

1 lb penne pasta
1/4 c olive oil
6 cloves of garlic (I use 8 bc I'm an addict)
1 t red pepper flakes (or to taste - I use 1T bc I like me some spice)
1/2 c kalamata olives, pitted and minced (the unpitted ones are tastier)
1 28oz can Muir Glen fire roasted diced tomatoes
1/4 c fresh chopped parsley
1 c fresh chopped basil
8 oz fresh mozzarella, chopped

Heat the oil in a pan on low heat. When it is hot (the oil will be more liquidy and move around very easily), add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Let them mingle for about five minutes. This flavors the oil, a significant ingredient in this delicious pasta.

Add the olives to the party. Let everyone dance for a few minutes. Be sure to stir a bit to shake up the dance floor.

This is a great time to get that water boiling (don't forget to salt!).

Back to the sauce. Add the tomatoes. Increase the heat to medium-low. Add the salt. The salt helps to breakdown the tomatoes into sauce. Add the parsley. If the sauce sticks to the bottom when you stir, lower the heat. If the sauce isn't bubbling increase the heat. Liquid will evaporate to the point that there may be bare spots of your pan showing. Don't fret! There will be plenty of sauce . . .

The pasta should be done at about the same time as the sauce. Add some of the reserved water to the sauce slowly so that it liquifies again. I usually and up adding just over a 1/4 cup of sauce.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Add the basil and stir together. Top with fresh mozzarella. Note, if you mix the mozzarella in with everything in a big bowl, it will get all melty. This might be your goal. However, I have noticed that although melty is deliciously gooey, the melty pieces tend to band together and form one big mass. So, unless the pasta cools significantly, I recommend just adding some to the individual bowls.


  1. Yum and Yay! Welcome to the food blog world, aka the land of crazy people who take pictures of their food and sometimes get weird stares for it. Your family and friends will get used to it though. :) Also, I expect to see some paella very soon.

  2. Welcome to the food blog world :) Found your blog through Jacqui. Jacqui mentioned something about paella up there?? I'd like to see a recipe on that.

    As for the penne, I love recipes moms make up...those are the best! Happy blogging.



  3. Felicidades on the awesome start! I have adopted this recipe as one of my go to recipes whenever I need something delicious and reliable. I like to add some of the liquid from the olives to make it more olivey and salty. Can't wait to see what comes next!


    p.s. I made this when I was home last and I caught Chaya licking the olives. Did you know she like olives? She actually ate a piece!

  4. Hi new old friends and new :) Thanks for the encouraging comments!

    Paella mmmmm . . . yes, that will make its debut soon.

    That kitty. She's such a little sneak.

  5. I love it! Can't wait to see all of your (and your mom's) delicious recipes!


  6. i'm going to make this dish for my birthday dinner tomorrow in oklahoma and my friend ed is going to bring cheesecake for my birthday cake. it's my favorite food in the world, tied with indian and lou malnati's. thanks for posting the recipe.

  7. Di - Thanks for checking it out! I'll be sure to steal and post plenty of Cindi Elkins classics.

    Fif - I agree. Best dish ever. Mom can be a genious sometimes.