2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup coarsely-chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon coarse salt
Freshly-ground black pepper
1 teaspoons crushed red pepper or to taste
3 to 4 medium tomatoes or 6 to 7 Roma tomatoes, diced (peeled and seeded if desired)*
8 to 12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small 1/2-inch cubes**
1 (16-ounce) package uncooked penna pasta***
Freshly-grated parmesan cheese
* Learn How To Peel Fresh Tomatoes.
** The mozzarella used is a fresh mozzarella. When a recipe specifies Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, please only use Fresh Mozzarella Cheese – You will be sorry if you do not use it!
Purchase Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Mozzarella Cheese Making Kits, and Mozzarella Cheese Slicers at What's Cooking America's Cooking Store.
NOTE: I found, from experience, that if you add the mozzarella cheese in the marinade at the beginning, if seem to get tough. By freezing the mozzarella cubes for 10 minutes, it keeps the cheese soft and keeps it from melting when added to the pasta.
*** I also have made this recipe with linguini pasta.
In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, olive oil, basil leaves, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Add the tomatoes and gently toss to combine. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Stir from time to time as the pasta cooks.
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain well and return to pan to keep warm. Learn How To Cook Pasta Properly.
While the tomatoes are marinating, place the mozzarella cubes on a plate and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Note: This will keep the cheese from getting rubbery when combined with the hot pasta.
After the tomato mixture has marinated and just before serving, add the mozzarella cheese cubes.
Add prepared tomato mixture to the cooked and drained pasta and gently toss to coat thoroughly.
Transfer onto individual serving plates and garnish with grated parmesan cheese.
Makes 4 servings.