Inspired by a recipe we made at Fork every summer as soon as the Branch Creek tomatoes began arriving at the restaurant.
Notes: Toasted pine nuts or walnuts would be a nice addition here.
- 1/2 lb. orecchiette pasta
- kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 lb. (or more) cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tablespoons basil pesto, plus more to taste
- 1/2 lb. ciliegene (small balls) mozzarella
- fresh basil*
- shaving of Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)
- fresh cracked black pepper
* If you have small tender leaves, leave them whole; otherwise, chiffonade the basil.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season well with kosher salt. Add pasta and cook till al dente, about 9 minutes or about 2 minutes less than what package instructions suggest. (Pasta will continue cooking as it is tossed with the other ingredients so it’s best to undercook it a little bit.) Drain pasta, reserving a cup or more of the pasta cooking liquid. Do not rinse.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for 30 seconds. Add pasta and pesto. Cook 1 minute, stirring to coat pasta with the pesto. Taste. Adjust with more salt, pepper, pesto, or a few tablespoon of the reserved pasta cooking liquid to make it saucier. Add the mozzarella. Stir to incorporate. Add the fresh basil and remove from the heat.
- Divide pasta among bowls and sprinkle each with some fresh shavings of Parmigiano. Crack the pepper over top and serve.