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An easy meal: penne caprese pasta recipe

I love the flavors of the caprese salad: basil, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella. They are perfect for pasta, either a cold salad or a hot dish. If you can get a bunch of basil at your local farmers market, so much the better. Make this and a batch of pesto! This recipe will get dinner on the table in just a few minutes. Serve with a green salad loaded with veggies.

Note: Today's recipe is just one example of the recipes you can get by e-mail every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon. Sign up for Easy Meal Ideas From Janet's Kitchen, and you'll have recipes and kitchen tips delivered to your in-box. Go to enews.tampabay.com.

Janet K. Keeler, Times food and travel editor

Tips from Janet's kitchen

• Think yogurt is always healthy? Think again and read the label. The best-for-you yogurt has only two ingredients: milk and live cultures. Add your own sweetener (honey) and fresh fruit, rather than buying super-sweet varieties. Also, remember fat-free doesn't mean calorie-free.

• Know your tolerance for heat when you use jalapeno peppers. When a recipe calls for two, I use only one, and I always remove all seeds and the ribs. Be careful not to rub your eyes or touch your lips after you work with them. And wash the cutting board thoroughly.

• Though cheese can have a lot of saturated fat, used sparingly it adds flavor and some protein to dishes. Sprinkle grated cheese on salads, pasta, vegetable dishes and soups.

• Have you ever eaten jicama, the root vegetable common in Mexico? If not, it is a cross between an apple and a potato — a little starchy and a little sweet. Crunchy, too. Get rid of the ugly brown peel and use the crispy flesh julienned, cubed or shredded in salads or as crudite. I like jicama sprinkled with cayenne pepper and a squeeze or two of lime juice.

>>easy

Penne Caprese

6 cups hot, cooked penne, drained

4 cups chopped plum tomatoes

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

1 cup diced fresh mozzarella

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon capers

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Combine penne, plum tomatoes, basil and mozzarella in a large bowl.

Whisk together olive oil, capers, salt, pepper and garlic. Pour

over penne and toss gently.

Sprinkle with Parmesan or

Romano cheese and toss

again.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: America's Hometown Cookbook, edited by Barbara Greenman (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2011)

An easy meal: penne caprese pasta recipe 06/21/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 5:30am]
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