Penne with Baby Mozzarella, Tomatoes, and Herbs
- 12 ounces penne rigate or other small tube pasta, like ziti, or short fusilli (corkscrews)
- 4 sprigs fresh oregano
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus as needed
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound baby mozzarella (boconccini), drained
- 2 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil, plus for drizzling
- 3 large ripe tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil over high heat, then salt it generously, add the pasta, and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain.
Meanwhile, strip the leaves from the oregano and thyme sprigs. Chop them together with the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the pepper, and then use the flat side of the knife to mash and smear the mixture to a coarse paste. Put in a bowl, along with the cheese, olive oil and toss to coat the cheese with the herb paste.
Cut the tomatoes into pieces about the same size as the cheese. Gently fold the tomatoes, parsley, and olives in with the cheese. Add the drained pasta and toss, then drizzle over a bit of olive oil and toss again. Serve now or room temperature.
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