Pasta With Mint, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella
In this green pasta dish, basil, mint, Parmesan and garlic are blended into a smooth pesto-like sauce, then tossed with pasta, creamy mozzarella and crunchy pine nuts just before serving. Marinating the mozzarella in some of the sauce as the pasta cooks imbues the mild cheese with flavor, and allows it to start softening so it melts in contact with the pasta. Serve this hot or warm, when the cheese is supple and a little runny.
- Serves: 4 persons
- ¼cup pine nuts
- ⅔cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
- 4cups fresh basil leaves, plus more torn leaves for garnish
- 1cup fresh mint leaves, plus more torn leaves for garnish
- 2garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
- ½teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
- Pinch red chile flakes
- ½cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 8ounces fresh bocconcini or mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 12ounces pasta, such as campanelle or fusilli
- Coarsely ground black pepper
Step 1In a small skillet over medium heat, toast pine nuts, shaking the pan frequently, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Step 2In a blender or mini food processor, combine Parmesan, basil, mint, garlic, salt and chile flakes. Pulse to combine, then add oil and process until smooth, adding more oil if needed to make a smooth paste. Taste and adjust salt and chile flakes if needed.
Step 3Transfer 2 tablespoons sauce to a small bowl and stir in mozzarella. Cover and let marinate at room temperature while boiling the pasta.
Step 4Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Use a mug to scoop out approximately 1/2 cup pasta water, then drain pasta. Transfer pasta to a serving bowl.
Step 5To serve, toss pasta with sauce and marinated mozzarella, adding a little of the reserved pasta water if the mixture looks dry. (It’s O.K. if the mozzarella melts slightly while you’re tossing.) Top with pine nuts, torn basil and mint, black pepper, Parmesan and another drizzle of oil to serve.