Conchiglie alla Caprese (con-kee-li-eh ah-la ka-prey-seh) is an Italian name meaning pasta shells with tomato, basil and mozzarella. This recipe comes to us from Corky, Lori, Dana and Tracy Pollan, authors of The Pollan Family Table.
Cooking Tip of the Week: Heirloom tomatoes are in season in late July in most parts of the country, but many farmers market vendors this time of year will sell hothouse tomatoes, (grown in a local greenhouse) which are also a tasty option.
Food for Thought: From the Pollans: Our kids love basil, so we use lots of it when making pesto and pastas. But there are reasons beyond taste for cooking with basil. Its oils can fight some antibiotic-resistant bacteria, as well as inhibit bacterial growth. Dietitians recommend adding basil to salad dressings to ensure the safety of the greens. And, unexpectedly, basil is an excellent source of iron.
Family Dinner Conversation Starter: What is your favorite reason for eating dinner together?
- 2 1/2 cups chopped heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 cups diced fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves (about 10 large), cut into chiffonade
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound medium pasta shells (conchiglie)
Together: In a large mixing bowl, mix together the tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, oil, basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, and black pepper to taste.
Together: Cover with plastic wrap and let the sauce marinate at room temperature while you prepare the pasta, or for up to 3 hours to enhance the flavors.
Adult: Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and the pasta. Cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than the directions on the package.
Adult: Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta in a colander.
Kid: Add the pasta to the sauce.
Kid: Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water, or as desired, to moisten the sauce.
Together: Season with sea salt and pepper. Serve hot or at room temperature.