Caprese salad is a favorite from Capri featuring fresh mozzarella, sliced ripe tomatoes, and basil. This dish reimagines caprese, adding pasta, bocconcini (bite-size mozzarella pieces), roasted tomatoes, and aromatic smoked olive oil. The type of oil I prefer comes from the Smoked Olive; feel free to substitute plain extra virgin olive oil. Serve the salad family-style in a shallow bowl or on a platter.
12 Roma tomatoes, halved, cored, and seeded
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Freshly ground white pepper
1 pound small shaped dried pasta, such as farfalle,gemelli, orecchiette, or a mixture
1 pound bocconcini balls, drained
1/4 cup smoked olive oil or extra virgin olive oil
15 large basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Toss the tomatoes in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, then place them cut side up on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, or until they are softened. When cool enough to handle, transfer the tomatoes to a bowl (reserve any juices from the pan for the pasta), add the balsamic vinegar and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine.
3. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Meanwhile, tear 4 of the bocconcini balls into shreds and toss with sea salt and a drizzle of the smoked olive oil. Stem and shred 3 of the basil leaves. When cooked, drain the pasta and toss with the reserved tomato juices, the shredded cheese, the remaining smoked olive oil, the shredded basil, salt to taste, and the red pepper flakes. Place in a shallow serving bowl or on a platter.
4. Toss together the roasted tomatoes and the remaining whole bocconcini and arrange them over the pasta. Tuck in the remaining 12 whole basil leaves and serve at room temperature.
Excerpted from Artisan Cheese Making at Home by Mary Karlin Copyright © 2011 by Mary Karlin. Excerpted by permission of Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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