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Shells a la Caprese

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 4 teaspoons lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 4 medium) ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 12 ounces fresh mozzarella (see note above), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 pound pasta shells
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, garlic, shallot, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  2. Add the diced tomatoes, toss gently to combine, and set aside for up to 30 minutes.
  3. If using commercially made mozzarella, spread the cubed cheese on a plate and set in the freezer until slightly firm, about 10 minutes.
  4. In a large pot, over high heat, bring 4 quarts water to a rolling boil. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta shells. Cook, uncovered, until al dente. Drain well.
  5. Add the pasta, mozzarella and basil to the tomato mixture, gently tossing to combine. Adjust seasonings with additional salt, pepper, lemon juice or sugar, as desired.
  6. Portion onto 4 to 6 serving plates or pasta bowls, sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve.
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