Mary Anne's Radiatore Pasta alla Caprese

      When it's too hot to spend much time in the kitchen, make your family some pasta that is fast, easy, and oh-so-good! Plus, it's so good for you!

      3/4 to 1 pound package radiatore, farfalle, or fusilli pasta

      3-4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

      4-6 cloves garlic, minced

      1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

      3-4 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

      1 teaspoon salt

      1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

      1/2 - 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn

      16 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced

      1/2 cup pasta water, optional

      Splash of extra-virgin olive oil

      • Cook pasta according to directions on package. Stir occasionally; it will be al dente in about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl, reserving approximately 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
      • In a medium skillet heat the extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and Italian seasoning and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. As the tomatoes cook and soften, smash them with a fork. Continue to cook until the tomatoes make a chunky style sauce, about 4 minutes. Transfer the tomato sauce to the bowl with the pasta. Toss to combine. Add the basil leaves and mozzarella. Stir to combine. Add the reserved pasta water, if needed, 1/4 cup at a time, until the pasta is moist. Add a splash of olive oil and mix well. Serve with crusty garlic bread that is lightly toasted in the oven and a simple green salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, and sliced red onion.

      6 servings.

      Note: You can also add a splash of white balsamic vinegar at the end for an extra "zip."

      Note: If you want, you can use one can diced tomatoes, instead of the fresh. Also, diced zucchini added with the tomatoes makes a lovely addition of crunch and flavor. Sometimes I add boneless, skinless Smart Chicken that I have roasted in the oven and then cubed.

      Note: Use 3/4 pound pasta if your family likes more sauce than pasta.