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Tomato Basil Pasta Salad

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Tomato Basil Pasta Salad

It’s one of those weeks where every bloomin’ thing in our house has decided to need attention all at once.  A headlamp has blown in my car.  A mystery puddle has formed beneath the spare freezer in the garage.  A trail of ants is marching happily toward a Honey Nut Cheerio on the kitchen floor - and although my oven died yesterday, it somehow continues to find the strength to emit a high pitched BEEEEP every now and then, just to let me know of its distress.  Oh, I’ll tell you what.  I have a baaaaad feeling in the pit of me’ wallet.

I made some phone calls this morning and set up some service calls.  And just how badly do I want to take delivery on a new motherboard for my oven?  Well, pretty bad, seeing as I agreed to the four hour window-of-wait imposed by the appliance repair man…tick tock, here I sit.  Can’t really leave the house, but I want to get a jump on dinner.

I took a quick inventory and here’s what I had:  grape tomatoes, a box of basil, half a pound of pasta, a chunk of Parmesan, and a bit of shredded mozzarella.  Here’s what I came up with .  It’s mighty tasty!  I think it would be the perfect accompaniment to any burgers, brats, or steaks you might grill this weekend.

Come over and keep me company, I’ll share some with you.   :-)

Just my opinion:  I think this is better served at room temperature.  If you make it ahead of time, just let it chillax on the counter for a bit before serving.
TOMATO BASIL PASTA SALAD
Serves: 4-6 as a side dish

8 oz. pasta (Creamette Pasta is on sale; I used rotini)
1/4 c. good quality olive oil
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. good quality Parmesan (Belgioioso Italian Cheeses are on sale)
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella (optional)
1 1/2 c. chopped tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes, but stem tomatoes are on sale)
generous handful of fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions.  Drain pasta and place it in a large mixing bowl.  While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and pepper flakes and saute until sizzling and golden brown (be careful not to burn the garlic).  Pour the olive oil mixture over the drained pasta and toss.  Season pasta with kosher salt to taste.  Allow pasta to cool slightly.  Add Parmesan and mozzarella and toss.  Add tomatoes and basil and toss again.  Adjust seasonings; serve at room temperature.

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Leah Damron is an avid home cook who believes in using the freshest ingredients available, and she challenges herself weekly to create meals out of (mostly!) sale items. If Sendik's ever gave a title for "Biggest Fan", she believes she would win, hands down. Leah lives in greater Milwaukee with her husband, three children, and her big black lab, Daisy."

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