Though uncooked pasta sauces sound spectacularly easy, pulling them off isn't as easy as you'd think. Most versions come off bland and watery. Add fresh mozzarella to the mix, and you might end up with a gloopy mess of half-melted nuggets of mozz, which stick to the pasta like laffy taffy. But leave it to Mollie Katzen to figure it all out. This recipe from Get Cooking starts with a flavorful balsamic vinaigrette, before mozzarella and chickpeas are added. This mixture is set aside for 30 minutes, allowing for all the flavors to mingle. At this point, you could serve this with some crusty bread and be done.
But the pasta and arugula add an interesting twist. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, it is added to the bowl, and arugula is folded in a handful at a time. After a few seconds, the arugula wilts from the heat of the pasta—or, I should say that it slightly wilts, as the arugula manages to keep some of its crunchy, peppery integrity. At this point, the dish is ready to go, and can be served at once. But you can also set it aside and let it come to room temperature, where it functions as something of an amazing pasta salad.
Adapted from Mollie Katzen's Get Cooking
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water
- black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1/2 pound pasta shells
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups chopped arugula
In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, garlic, salt, a few cracks of black pepper, thyme, oregano, and olive oil. Add the chickpeas and the mozzarella. Toss well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of salt and the pasta. Cook according to the directions on the packaging until al dente. When done, drain in a colander.
Toss the pasta in the large bowl with the mozzarella and chickpeas. Add a handful of the arugula a sprinkling of parmesan and stir. Continue this process until all of the arugula and most of the parmesan has been added. The arugula will wilt slightly due to the warm pasta. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if needed. Divide the pasta between four large bowls, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Parmesan. This pasta is great warm, but also works at room temperature.