Gina’s Penne with Cherry Tomatoes

This pasta recipe will be forever referred to in our home as “Gina’s Penne” (not to worry, I cleared this with Gina). An almost daily occurence for me at work is when I say to my friend Gina “what are you having for dinner tonight?” Last week she mentioned throwing together some penne, cherry tomatoes and bocconcini cheese, and I was totally inspired and did just that the other day. The result was a delicious, hearty pasta that has the best of summer in every bite with the combination of the cherry tomatoes which are currently at their peak, and of course the fresh basil.

The following gives you a generous serving for two, you can multiply quantities as necessary.
200g penne (I like De Cecco, but feel free to use any that you have on hand)
1 pint of cherry tomatoes (approximately 25-30), halved
1 small bunch of fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 tbs of extra virgin olive oil (the oil serves as the basis for your sauce)
1/4-1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
150g small bocconcini cheese (approximately 6 pieces), roughly sliced
(if you would like to make a lighter version of this, you could cut the cheese quantity in half or skip the bocconcini in favour of a little grated parmesan instead, or skip the cheese entirely)
salt and pepper to taste

Follow the directions on the box for cooking the pasta. Once you’ve put your pasta in to boil (approximately 11 minutes), start the sauce. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil and the garlic together over medium heat (the garlic infuses the oil this way). Once the garlic begins to sizzle, but before it browns too much, add the cherry tomatoes, and the red pepper flakes and allow to simmer on medium for 3 minutes, then reduce to low heat. The tomatoes will start to break down forming a lovely sauce-like consistency. Once the pasta has almost finished cooking, remove the sauce from the heat and spoon in the penne. Any pasta water that clings to the penne helps the sauce combine well. Toss in the cheese, fresh basil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and serve immediately.

We drank a bottle of San Pelegrino water with lunch, but a Gamay, a Riesling or a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc would be a good match.



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