When I brought this to the dinner table last week, Little Boy #1, who always loves pasta, was visibly disappointed. “Oh, I was really hoping we were having pasta that wasn’t so… green.”
And then he ate two bowls and the leftovers for breakfast.
Orecchiette means little ear, and you can see that the shape of this pasta is indeed something like a little ear. Are you happy to know that? Or does it creep you out a little? Just checking…
This pasta dish has the classic Caprese salad flavor combination of tomato, basil, and mozzarella. It is the Italian flag in a bowl, and it’s a beautiful thing. It’s simple, healthy, fresh and full of flavor.
If you’ve never made your own pesto before, you are going to love how easy it is to make! Of course, if you need to save time and have a favorite brand that you already love, I totally understand and will not judge. I will not be a pesto snob!
Roasting the grape tomatoes in the oven concentrates their natural sweetness, and makes a girl who’s actually not very fond of the little fellows a tomato convert. True story.
Aren’t those tiny balls of fresh mozzarella the cutest? Make sure you set your mozzarella out just before you start to make this so that it has a little bit of time to come to room temperature. When you add it to the warm pasta, it softens and settles into the little orecchiette cups so perfectly. Like a match made in heaven I tell you.
Just FYI, I found the orecchiette, fresh basil, pine nuts, and fresh mozzarella at Trader Joe’s. Also some lovely white tulips for my kitchen counter.
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup roasted pine nuts
- salt to taste
- 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 16 ounces orecchiette pasta
- 1 batch of homemade pesto (recipe below)
- 1 cup fresh mozzarella (Ciliegine), sliced in half and room temperature
- Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and process until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees and set a large pot of salted water on high heat to boil for the pasta.
- In a small bowl, toss the tomatoes with a teaspoon of olive oil. Lay them in a single layer on a Silpat lined baking sheet, and roast for 15-18 minutes.
- Cook pasta according to directions and drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
- Add the freshly made pesto to your pasta and stir to coat. If the pesto is too thick for your liking, you can thin it out a bit with the reserved pasta water, adding a little at a time.
- Add in the oven roasted tomatoes and room temperature fresh mozzarella. The warmth of the pasta will soften the cheese.
- Taste the pasta and add salt as needed.