Saturday, January 11, 2014

Pasta Italia: Easy Dish, Great for Groups

My husband made this dish up while he was in Italy for two years and ate it all the time. The ingredients were cheap and easy to find and well, it's really tasty! Several friends have asked for the recipe so here you go:

Note: don't worry too much about exact quantities. It's all to taste and according to how large your group is—in other words, we usually "eyeball" it. If you have questions send me a message.
Pasta Italia

You'll need equal parts (almost) of:

• ham, cubed
• Mozzarella cheese, cubed (we like less cheese, more tomato)
• tomatoes (any kind) cubed
• Rigatoni noodles work best, the big fat kind you can stick your thumb in. Yum. (the amount should be about 1/3 or less of the total ingredients.)
Note: we use whole wheat noodles for health reasons but rigatoni is hard to find, which is why you see a different pasta in the photo above.)

and also some

• olive oil
• fresh basil, one "package" finely chopped (if serving 6—10) If using fresh, a good fistful of leaves
• balsamic vinegar

1. In a large pot begin boiling the rigatoni. (Do NOT over cook, throw the noodles out if that happens…it just won't taste good in this dish and you will be disappointed.)

2. In a skillet add a bit of olive oil and allow to heat.

3. Add cubed ham to the skillet and cook until just browning on sides and still juicy. Set aside.

4. In a separate bowl, (while the ham is cooking) combine the cubed tomatoes, cheese, chopped fresh basil, and drizzle olive oil over the ingredients (to taste). Mix. see photo above.

5. Salt the mixture to taste.

6. When rigatoni is finished, drain and add all the ingredients to the pot (tomato/cheese mixture and ham) while the noodles are still hot.

7. Mix. Your cheese will begin melting, this is good.

Serve hot with balsamic vinegar on the table for drizzling. (This is a must!)
Great with French bread and fresh fruit.
Makes good leftovers too! Just reheat until cheese begins to melt.

Note: If you want this to be a South Beach Phase 1 meal, leave the pasta out.
If you want it to be a phase 2 meal, use 100% whole grain pasta.

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