My last pesto was so mind-blowingly amazing, I thought I'd give it another shot tonight. Like last time, I was working with what I had in the fridge ... and I've determined being forced to use what's on hand is a huge source of inspiration. It's sort of like I'm in the Chopped kitchen and Bill is Ted Allen ... plus all of the judges! Some nights I get chopped and others ... well, I don't walk away with 10 grand, but at least I have a happy husband :)
Today I found in my basket ... I mean refrigerator ... a bunch of Italian flat leaf parsley, a carton of grape tomatoes, and a container of fresh mozzarella. (My ingredients aren't nearly as obscure as the show's, but way easier to work with!) Immediately, I conjured up images of caprese salad, but turned into a pasta.
Now I have to be honest and admit that Bill wasn't the biggest fan of this dish (which means I got chopped tonight). I agree that it wasn't as spectacular as the Cilantro Pesto. But I thought it was still pretty darn good, thanks in part to a (rare) stroke of genius I had. I decided to toss the tomatoes in with the boiling pasta for just a couple minutes to see what happened. And what happened was delicious! They burst ever-so-slightly in the water and released yummy, tomato-y juices. Plus, I loved the texture of the cooked tomatoes and how the hot pasta made the cheese melt just a little bit ... Yum!
Caprese Pesto Pasta
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 bunch Italian parsley leaves
3 garlic cloves
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup finely grated Romano cheese
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 lb. pasta (of your choice)
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella pearls
Pulse pine nuts in a food processor until finely ground. Add parsley, garlic, red pepper flakes, and cheese. Blend until smooth. With food processor running, add lemon juice and oilve oil. Blend until well-combined. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, you should be boiling your pasta. Toss tomatoes into boiling pasta with 2 minutes left. When pasta is cooked, reserve 1 ladle of the cooking liquid, then drain pasta and tomatoes. Toss warm pasta with pesto and mozzarella pearls, adding reserved cooking liquid as necessary (I only added a tablespoon or so). Serve.