Pasta with Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella

When we lived in LA, you two girls came with us  to the T’s for dinner one night.  You were in for a treat. That Venice Beach location, and a wonderful infusion of Aussie family atmosphere was so pleasant . On top of that, DT’s prowess as an Italian chef was about to be revealed.

As the sun melted into the Pacific Ocean and the waves crashed with the tide coming in, we chatted at the kitchen island, about all things Australian. DT was cooking you girls something special she said she’d always made for her boys. As is true of most Italian cuisine, freshness and simplicity were key to a memorable dish of pasta.

The W family were here last week-end, and brought with them a large container of tomatoes, capsicums and chills from their garden. At first I used them sparingly, these  fresh garden picked delights. But as the days wore on, I knew I would only be wasting them if they perished. THAT would never do! It was time to make DT’s pasta dish!

This recipe is so simple, one doesn’t need a recipe, but a few things bear following to bring out a perfect flavour.  I know it is a deceptively simple recipe, Izzy. But the warmth of the pasta releases a wonderful aroma in the uncooked tomato and basil, and the mozzarella adds a slight creaminess which counters the  tomato acidity perfectly. Please tell Grouse honcho MW that he can substitute the cheese with soft tofu.

Pasta with Tomato and Mozzarella 

  • Very ripe tomatoes
  • fresh basil,washed and picked off the stems
  • some good medium firm mozzarella 
  • pasta of choice (penne or spagatinni is favoured here)
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil
  1. Bring a large pan of well salted water to the boil.
  2. When the water is boiling vigorously, add the pasta and boil carefully till perfectly al dente (pasta should be chewy not crunchy, neither should it be allowed to turn soft and squidgy). 
  3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, cut tomatoes into bite size pieces. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt to bring out exceptional flavour. 
  4. When the pasta is perfectly boiled, drain, and quickly toss it in the bowl of tomatoes.
  5. The warmth of the pasta will soften the tomatoes slightly, adding to its juiciness, and creating a bit of a sauce. 
  6. Now add the chopped up pieces of mozzarella. It will melt slightly, adding to the ‘sauce’.
  7. Serve immediately, while still warm, but not before you tear up the  basil leaves and sprinkle over the pasta.

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Simple food sublime

I was shopping late one afternoon at Wholefoods in Yorkville, Izzy.  The rain was coming down, and I wanted to find something comforting but light to cook for dinner. It had to be quick. It was already a scrambled day. The people coming to look at the house at 2.30 came late.  More were coming right at dinner time.

Cruising the fresh produce aisles, I found lots of heirloom root vegetables and a variety of tomatoes. The weather feels like a long way off from summer, but somewhere closeby it seems the tomatoes are coming into their own.

So I put the beautiful root vegetables on some parchment paper and drizzled them with oil, and popped them in the oven.

The tomatoes: yellow, purple, orange and red were roughly chopped and tossed with fresh mint and more lovely olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.

As I waited for the medley of vegetables in the oven to cook, I thought it was time to put together a batch of Anzacs.  Always good for a late night homework snack for you-know who ( and for the rest of us, who am I kidding!). I will never forget when you baked us some. We were getting off a long couple of flights to come be with you in Melbourne. You had travelled across town from campus, let yourself into the Eildon Road house, shopped and cooked and had everything so lovely for when we arrived.  The pile of neat Anzac biscuits was perfect. It was the best welcome home ever!! You should have that recipe to keep for sure.

Anzacs are a wonderful treat.  You used to be able to get them more easily at the local Aussie bakeries, but nowadays, the commercial variety is no comparison to the ones baked at home.  Thank goodness for friends like Lyn and Giselle who continue to keep such wonderful traditions of baking old fashioned favourites like these. This here is a combination of their recipes, so credit goes to my two dear expert bakers for inspiring me with their failsafe and totally delicious recipes.

Just look at this picture of the cookie dough, Izz: if I ever dare make them with you all around,  it is a race to get them in the oven before you and your sister and your dad eat half the dough! The treacly taste of the golden syrup combined with the coconut and oat meal are pretty irresistible, cooked or raw.

Just wanted to remind you of how the simple pleasures of simple cooking can be so rewarding. But I think you are finding that out yourself! Happy cooking, Miss!

Anzac Biscuits

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup oats
  2. 1 cup plain flour
  3. 1 cup brown sugar, or a little less
  4. 3/4 cup coconut, or a little more
  5. 2 tablespoons flax seed ( optional)
  6. 1/4 cup sultanas (optional)
  7. 125gm butter
  8. 2 table spoons golden syrup
  9. 1 teaspoon bi carb soda
  10. 3 tablespoons boiling water
  • Mix first 4-6 ingredients together in bowl.
  • Melt butter + syrup over low heat in saucepan.
  • Dissolve bi carb in boiling water.
  • Add to melted mixture.
  • Stir into dry ingredients.
  • Drop spoonfuls on  to greased tray.
  • Bake for 15-17 min at 150C ( watch them carefully) , until barely golden for a chewy softer texture, but a deeper gold for it to crisp up.