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Italian Flag Pasta (Birthday week part 3)

Simple flavors of Italy bursting with freshness. Similar to a margherita pizza in composition with basil, tomato, garlic, and mozzarella.

24 oz tri color rotini, cooked (make sure to save some pasta water)

8 oz cherry tomatoes, halved

16 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed

6 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 c basil chiffonade

5 oz baby spinach

juice and zest of 2 lemons

1 Tbsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

2 tsp salt

3 ladles of reserved pasta water

2 Tbsp favorite flavored extra virgin olive oil (I used Saratoga Olive Oil's Tuscan Herb)

Sautee tomatoes (with a pinch of your seasoning) in olive oil until slightly softened and remove from pan. Add in your spinach and garlic, and of course another pinch of seasoning. Now to that pan throw in your cooked rotini.

Give it about 1-2 minutes with occasional stirring to come together then add in the remainder of your seasoning mix, all of your lemon juice, and most of your lemon zest. Ladle in about 3 large ladles of reserved pasta water and allow to simmer lightly for about 5 minutes. Finally bring your tomatoes back in and most of your basil. Let this come together over low heat for another 5 minutes and drizzle in your olive oil and heat through (if not already hot enough for your liking). Serve with mozzarella on top, garnish with a sprinkle of basil and lemon zest, and enjoy!

More thoughts

  1. I like to drizzle a little more extra virgin olive oil on top of my pasta before serving. Bella likes a cayenne oil drizzle while I prefer lemon or Tuscan herb

  2. You could leave the tomatoes mostly raw if you prefer and add them in at the end (I would do it after simmering with the pasta water and lemon juice). Bella does not like raw tomatoes and I will say I do like to cook out some of the acidity as well.

  3. The tri-color rotini is not necessary but I like that it kinda matches the theme of Italian flag colors. I would use a pasta very similar to rotini as it holds onto the oil better than a tube shape or long pasta.

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