Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Ziti with sun-dry tomatoes & mozzarella

Giada De Laurentiis is a TV chef in America, the art direction and camera work of her show are top-notch, so as her family background, none of these is what I like about her though, rather, is her way to bring out an ultimate flavor of food by using the most basic ingredients and simple cooking. Speaking of which, I still remember one of her dessert: sprinkling sugar on fresh ricotta cheese, yup, that's all! Pretty much having the most delicate, flawless and ceramic skin, you really have no heart to put any make up on! This pasta dish is also from her show, however, I have a habit of not putting the sound on, I just did it my own way with her choice of ingredients: toss cooked pasta with sun-dry tomatoes and mozzarella. Tell you, the taste is arrestingly delicious as long as you use the best quality of mozzarella. I'm not talking about those plastic tubs that found at supermarket, I got mine from Italian grocers. One owner, in fact, makes the cheese every hour. But the best I got is from another grocer though, melt-in-the-mouth is the word I can think of now!

About the choice of pasta, tube shape is used this time which still, there are various options, like ziti and penne. I prefer the former one (without groves) as the texture is more delicate, really pairing well with this cheese.

Recipe (yield 2 servings as the first course)
  • Ziti
  • 10 pieces sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 big slice of best quality mozzarella, about 1.5 - 2 cm thick.
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • fresh basil leaves
  • Best quality of extra virgin olive oil


  • Bring a big pot of water to boil. When the water starts getting hot, I put the sun-dried tomatoes in so as to blanch them at the same time. You can separate the process if you like, blanch tomatoes about 7 minutes or slightly soften.
  • Add sea salt in boiling water, cooking Ziti.
  • Cut the mozzarella to little cubes. Slice the tomatoes. Set them aside.
  • Two or three minutes before zite is done, heat a skillet, drizzle generous amount of e.v. olive oil, saute garlic and tomatoes over very low heat for about 2 minutes. Use a big slotted spoon to fish out ziti (as I don't want to drain the pasta too dry) and place them into the same pan, add more salt, toss. Last second add mozzarella cubes for a quick toss, I just need them coated with garlic oil but not heated/ melted.
  • Put the pasta on warm plate, add basil leaves and more e.v. olive oil (as needed) to serve.

This post is my contribution to Ruth's Presto Pasta Night. Please hop over to her site to check for details, or the round-up this Friday!



MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Sounds like you've easily steped straight into heaven. Fresh mozzarella is like nothing else called by the same name!!

Anonymous said...

Oh! How I wish I had access to truly fresh mozarella and ricotta! Til then I will just enjoy them through your posts :) This looks wonderful...I really like dishes that are simple and highlight the flavors of each ingredient...

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Turns out that it is pretty easy to make your own mozzarella, if you can find the curd (try Armenian grocery stores for this). There is nothing better, to me, than fresh mozzarella and ripe garden tomatoes. I like Giada's straightforward cooking, too.

Anh said...

Gattina, I do know what you are talking about. When I have time to go down a special grocery to get fresh mozzarella, it is really good!

Anonymous said...

Oh - you're so right about fresh mozzarella. I haven't found it down here yet. But, when I visit my mom in NYC, she always has some ready for me. Yum!.

Your pictures are stunning! Really, really stunning.

Anonymous said...

Oh my... this recipe is right up my alley. I can't wait to give it a try! It looks so good!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely stunning! This looks like a great meal for a hot day like we're having today - too bad my fridge is empty and I have nobody to venture into the heat to bring me such fresh ingredients as your own :*(

Passionate Eater said...

Giada has nothing on you! Your blog is top-notch and so is YOUR ability to bring out the flavors using basic ingredients. I am always amazed by your creations!

Gattina Cheung said...

Tanna, I'm lucky on getting fresh cheese here :D

Joey, hope you'll get them too!

Lydia, thanks for the info. But I'm the only one eating cheese in my family, so crossing the street to buy it is more easier for me. Ah-ha, but I can try growing own tomatoes :D

Anh, do try it :D But even fresh one, the standard (in my area) is various, got to try a few outlets.

Chris, you mom must be a great cook! Thanks for your sweet words :D

Kristen, let me know how's yours after you try :D

Ellie, still very hot there? Oh dear, the summer here is quite hot too, but lucky enough it doesn't last long.

PassionateEater, you make my day :D

Saffron said...

you have to open a restaurant with all these delicatessen!
I love your pasta bicolore!

Lis said...

Wow.. we were on the same brain wave! hehe I made sun-dried tomato and mozzarella ravioli last night =)

Now I'm going to try the tomato and cheese on the outside with ziti! Yours looks sooooooooo good!

Ruth Daniels said...

Once again, you do amazing things with the simplest of ingredients. Plus, no one does better photos than you. I just want to lick the screen!

Thanks for sharing and joining in Presto Pasta Night Fun.

FH said...

So colrful and delectable Gattina!Love it.

Shah cooks said...

i remember that episode on that Giada. ever since then, i have been eating ricotta with sugar.u are right.. she does have a way with the fresh stuff.nice recipe for the summer.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Gattina, this is amazing - nothing beats good pasta with fresh ingredients!
Well, now I know what I'll be having for lunch tomorrow or Sunday. ;)

Seema Bhat said...

Gattina, fresh mozzarella oh my god that owner makes it on hourly basis. Thats is called super fresh then. Love the colors. Thanx for sharing.d

Anonymous said...

I seldom see Ziti in the it's penne that I always end up with.
I shall keep a lookout in future..and maybe try your recipe :p
I came from Pasta Night.

Gattina Cheung said...

Saffron, to be honest with you, I enjoy just being a patron, instead of owner of restaurant :D I don't like stress anymore (you're on TV field you can feel...)

Lis, I beg your ravioli must be a big hit! Show me anytime if you have a chance :D I just love any of your pasta dish!

Ruth, really thanks for your kind words! My house is very bright, that helps a ton!

Asha, thank sweetie!

Shaheen, creeeeeeeamy!!!

Pat, enjoy!

Seema, yes it is, but it can't stay fresh for long, got to consume in 2 days or so.

Tigerfish, after I tried two types for this recipe, I do like ziti better, but you know,it all boils down to personal preference.

Gattina Cheung said...

Sher, just give me fresh mozzarella and slice sweet tomato, I'm the happiest person! Am now anticipating your garden fresh tomatoes :D

Katie said...

I had an Italian grocery near me once...sigh.
That looks wonderful.
Maybe I could try to make my own....