caprese pasta

I could listen to folk music all day every day. Something about a banjo and a good acoustic guitar just cuts right to my heart. 

Today I went to a local pottery studio with an old friend and we painted pottery for hours in companionable silence; the accompaniment of gentle folk in the background as we worked on our pieces. There is something to be said for cultivating relationships and maintaining them- friendships are just as fluid as romantic relationships, with ebb and flow. Without flexibility, we lose each other. 

This particular friend- Sara- was with me in one of the darkest periods in my life as I went through a brutal internship and graduate school. We spent days upon days together; usually one of us would stay in the other's apartment every night and we worked out twice a day together. Without her there, I'm not sure how well I would have been able to complete what was in front of me.

Today, as we were painting quietly, she suddenly spoke. "You bring calm to everything," she said. "I don't know what it is about you, but you just bring calm." I laughed and said it must be my 'vibe', and then reminded her that she brought calm to me too. And we laughed and painted some more.

While still ruminating on the nature of friendship and my very pleasant afternoon, my mom's friend Rhonda texted that she had tons of extra basil, and asked if we would like some. Another relationship carefully tended, cultivated and harvested. 

Of course I said yes to the basil, and tonight for dinner I whipped up this caprese pasta. At first I felt a bit silly, as it was a dinner-for-one, but then I laughed and felt the presence of my friends. Enjoy.

Here's how it's done:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a medium saucepan, combine the honey and balsamic vinegar. This should be a fairly large pan, as you'll be using it to make the pasta sauce too.

Bring the vinegar mix to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. While the vinegar is cooking, chop up your tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.

Once the fifteen minutes are up, pour off the mixture and set it aside. Pour some olive oil into the pan and add the garlic. Cook over medium heat for about two minutes, until the garlic is nice and fragrant.

caprese pasta (5).jpg

Add the tomatoes and cover. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Cook the tomatoes, covered, for about ten minutes. 

Turn off the heat and stir in the basil. Add the drained pasta. Top with the mozzarella. Toss.

After plating, drizzle with a little balsamic reduction. Yum!

Recipe:

1 c balsamic vinegar

1/4 c honey

1 T olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 c chopped tomatoes

1/2 c chopped fresh basil

1/2 c chopped fresh mozzarella

8 ounces pasta

salt and pepper, to taste

Put a large pot of water on to boil. In a medium saucepan, combine the honey and the balsamic. Bring to a boil, then turn to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Once the vinegar is done, pour into a bowl and set aside. Add the olive oil to the pan at medium heat. At the garlic and cook for about two minutes, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, stir, and cover. Cook, covered, over medium heat for 15 minutes. Cook the pasta.

Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the basil. Add the drained pasta. Top with the chopped mozzarella. Stir, season well with salt and pepper. 

After plating, drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and serve extra on the side.