1/2cupbasil leavesloosely packed and torn if large
1/8 - 1/4tsp.crushed red pepper flakes
3/4tsp.kosher saltplus more, to taste
12 ozPaccheri pasta tubes 16-18 paccheri or more if using smaller pasta, about 14 oz *see Note 2
3.5ozBuffalo or Fresh Mozzarella Ballcut into 1/2-inch cubes (100g) *see Note 3
Finely grated Parmesan
Fresh basilthinly sliced
Start a large pot of water boiling for the pasta and salt it well. Once boiling, add the pasta to the pot and cook according to package directions, or until al dente.
1 tsp butter
Add the olive oil and garlic to a skillet on the stovetop. Turn the heat on to medium-low and heat the oil and garlic slightly. As soon as the oil is heated and you can see tiny bubbles around the garlic, add the cherry tomatoes and basil to the pan and raise the temperature slightly. Add the red pepper flakes and salt (and a pinch of sugar, if using). Cook, stirring, until the skin on the cherry tomatoes starts to crack open. **Make sure the garlic doesn't brown during this process. If it is starting to colour at all, add a Tbsp or 2 of water to the pan to stop the garlic browning.
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 3-4 cloves garlic, 1 lb. fresh cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup basil leaves, 1/8 - 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
When the tomatoes start cracking, use the back of a large spoon to smash about 1/2 of the cherry tomatoes. Add the butter (if using) and stir to combine.
When pasta is ready, spoon out of pot with a slotted spoon, allowing the excess water to drain off back into the pot. Add the drained pasta to the skillet with the tomatoes. Stir to combine. Add a 1/2 ladle or so of pasta water to the skillet and cook the pasta with the sauce about 2 minutes. Season with some freshly ground pepper.
Remove skillet from heat and stir in the cubed fresh mozzarella. Stir in and allow the residual heat from the pan to soften the cheese. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan and some fresh, chopped basil. *If using regular mozzarella cheese, you may need to leave it on the heat for a bit to soften the cheese.
12 oz Paccheri pasta tubes
1. If you prefer, you can use a good-quality, canned whole tomatoes. Just use the whole tomatoes (not any liquid in the can) and crush them into the pan by hand. If using canned tomatoes, you can skip the process of softening and crushing in the instructions.2. I love the large, hearty Paccheri pasta, but you can use any short pasta here. Penne works nicely. For smaller pasta, use more than specified.3. Fresh mozzarella is lovely in this dish and I like Buffalo mozzarella for a bit more flavour. You can also use regular mozzarella, if you like. Keep it in cubes, but you may want to add it to the pan before removing from the heat, as it will need a bit more than residual heat to start melting. Stir in the pan over the heat and as soon as it starts to soften, remove from heat and serve.