Summer Pasta with Smashed Tomatoes, Peaches & Mozzarella

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We have been cooking this quick little dinner recipe rather frequently during the summer. At a first glance, it might seem like it’s just a classic/boring fresh tomato pasta. But when you consider the context: hot summer days, family time, ripe tomatoes in season, everyone is hungry but no one feels like cooking … you’ll realise that it’s exactly the kind of simple dinner that we all need more of. We have of course given this dish our own schwung. Instead of just serving tomatoes fresh, we squeeze/punch/smash them up a bit so they get softer and release some of that lovely juice that gets mixed with olive oil, a splash of the hot pasta water, fresh basil, garlic and pickled capers. Already there, you got yourself a pretty great flavor combo. But then we throw in a handful of peach slices for extra sweetness, delicious toasted pine nuts and some large chunks of creamy buffel mozzarella, which makes it Italian-grandmother-kind-of-awesome.

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You can serve this with any type of pasta. In our home we usually use various sorts of gluten free (buckwheat is a favourite) or whole grain pasta or spiralized/shredded zucchini (also known as zoodles), but here we are using bean linguine, made entirely from dried beans and therefore naturally vegan, gluten free and high in protein. This pasta has a delicious flavour and a nice chewy texture. We have seen various sorts of bean pastas starting to pop up in supermarkets and health food stores – soybean pasta, chickpea pasta and black bean pasta – so keep an eye out for those next time you are out shopping for pasta.

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In this dish the quality of the ingredients is everything. Use only fresh, ripe tomatoes and peaches and make sure to choose your favourite olive oil.

If you want a creamier sauce, you can sub the mozzarella for ricotta cheese + some lemon juice, which also is really awesome. You can of course also add parmesan cheese if you prefer. For a vegan option, I think it’d be interesting to work with a softer type tofu instead of the cheese. Perhaps pre-marinate it for a while in olive oil and fresh Italian herbs.

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Pasta with smashed raw tomatoes, peach & mozzarella
Serves 4

1 clove garlic
2 tbsp pickled capers
500g ripe tomatoes
3-4 sprigs fresh basil, leaves picked and chopped, save some for garnish
a few lugs of cold-pressed olive oil
a pinch sea salt and black pepper
200 g bean pasta or other gluten free pasta alternative or zucchini noodles
30 g pine nuts
2 peaches or nectarines
200 g / 7 oz mozzarella cheese
1 handful rucola/aragula/rocket salad

Mince the garlic very finely. Mash the capers with the back of a knife. Divide the tomatoes in half. Chop the basil. Place everything in a large serving bowl and add a few glugs of olive oil, salt and pepper. With your hands, squeeze or punch the tomatoes until soft and juicy. This tecnique creates a delicious pasta sauce. Cook the pasta in lightly salted boiling water according to the instructions on package. Meanwhile, lightly toast the pine nuts in a skillet on medium heat. Slice the nectarines and tear the mozzarella in smaller pieces. When that pasta is done, reserve about 1/2 cup / 100 ml of cooking water and drain the rest. Add the pasta immediately to the serving bowl while it’s still hot, toss with the tomato ‘sauce’ and rucola until well mixed, add some of the cooking water if you want to make it a little juicier. Decorate with peaces, mozzarella cheese, pine nuts, arugula, a few whole basil leaves and an extra drizzle of olive oil. Ready to serve.

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