School hasn’t even started yet, but my evenings have already taken on that intense back-to-school quality that I like to call insanity. There are orientations and athletics, and there are too many things to do crammed into the three tiny hours between the end of the work day and the bedtime routine. There isn’t even homework yet, which always seems like it’s half the parents’ responsibility anyway.
And then there’s dinner.
Gone are the days of lounging on the patio, enjoying the communal atmosphere, ending our meals with impromptu water fights in the backyard. Now it’s all about how fast we can make food appear and trying to find 20 minutes to sit down and eat it together so we can go on to the next thing. (Lesson: Never take summer evenings for granted.)
This is the time for one-pot meals — the kind where everything goes into the same space and then comes out the other end resembling dinner. Pasta is the perfect answer for a pregame meal, with plenty of fresh mozzarella and a bit of basil so that it harkens to your favorite summertime salad, the caprese.
Perhaps this flies in the face of everything you’ve ever heard about cooking pasta. There are no pots of boiling water, expertly salted. The pasta does not get tossed in a finishing sauce with a bit of that reserved water. No. This is a one-burner affair, free from massive amounts of dishes and requiring just one pot and one spoon to stir and serve.
When I asked my youngest daughter what I should say about this dish, she told me, “Tell them it’s amazing. Incredible, really.” That’s a pretty strong recommendation from a newly minted 8-year-old.
One Pot Caprese Pasta
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
- 12 ounces cavatelli or fusilli pasta
- 3 cups diced tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups packed fresh basil
- 2 shallots, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper, optional
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 6 ounces fresh mozzarella (small balls, or 1-inch diced chunks)
- In a Dutch oven or a large saute pan, place the pasta, tomatoes, 1 cup of the fresh basil, shallots, garlic, olive oil, oregano, crushed red pepper, kosher salt and black pepper. Stir to combine. Pour the water and red wine over and mix.
- Turn the burner to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium to medium-low, maintaining a simmer. Continue to stir frequently, cooking for 15 to 20 minutes, until the pasta is al dente and most of the liquid has been absorbed, with just a thick sauce remaining.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the mozzarella and the remaining fresh basil. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Notes: You can easily add a protein to this dish. Simply brown some Italian sausage in the same pot before adding in everything else and let it cook, or you can toss in some deveined shrimp near the end of cooking or some leftover chicken and let them cook in the sauce as well.
Photo credit: Shaina Olmanson