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Caprese Linguini

Caprese salads are so fresh and flavorful; fun to order at a restaurant and also so easy and quick to make at home.  If you grow herbs, you probably know the feeling of basing an entire meal around an herb because you are so proud that you have grown it and you just want a reason to use it!  My basil is doing great this year and I wanted to use it for dinner tonight.  I had a great Caprese salad at a restaurant the other day (The American Girl Bistro, of all places) but tonight I was wanting more of a meal but still all of those fresh ingredients.  I spiced up some cooked linguini with garlic, red pepper and green onion, drizzled some balsamic vinegar and then added the caprese ingredients without cooking them at all.  The hot pasta with the cool tomatoes, mozzarella and basil was a nice combo on a warm summer night.

Caprese Linguini (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

1 lb whole wheat linguini

1 pkg grape tomatoes, halved

8 oz fresh mozarella cheese, cut in small chunks or Ciliegine mozzarella (bite sized mozzarella balls, halved

20 fresh basil leaves, chopped in large pieces

4 -6 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

6 Tbsp olive oil

3-4 cloves garlic, diced

6-8 green onions, sliced thin

½ tsp red pepper flakes

salt

fresh ground pepper

Directions:

Cut tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil and set aside (sprinkle tomatoes and cheese with salt and pepper).  Boil linguini as directed and drain.  In large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and sauté for approximately 1 minute (do not let garlic burn).  Add green onion, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Add linguini and toss to coat.  Keep on low heat for a few minutes.  Drizzle more olive oil if pasta seems too dry.  Divide pasta equally in four bowls.  Drizzle 1 – 1 ½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar over each bowl of pasta.  Add tomatoes, mozzarella and basil.  Salt and pepper to taste.