Nuno’s Penne with Mozzarella, Tomato, Basil, and a Secret Ingredient (Anchovies)
From Amanda Brooks’ book Farm From Home, learn to make her Italian friend Nuno’s recipe for penne with mozzarella, tomato, basil, and a secret ingredient.
Nuno and his wife, Muriel, are great friends of ours who live in New York. When we needed a break from the responsibilities of our own summer house, we would often go spend the weekend at theirs, and I was fascinated by watching Nuno, a passionate Italian, cook pasta. This is my favorite of the ones he taught me.
- 1 pound penne pasta (I prefer De Cecco)
- 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes (the freshest), chopped in half
- 1/2 pound buffala mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- handful fresh basil, hand shredded olive oil
- sea salt and black pepper
- 3 anchovy fillets in olive oil
- Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot filled with pasta, water, and a big pinch of salt to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, a few glugs of olive oil, and salt and pepper. Let it sit.
In a large pan over medium heat, cook three anchovy fillets (or more if you like things salty) in a tablespoon of their own oil. Make sure to cover the pan with a lid or splatter guard, as the anchovies will spit! Remove from heat when it looks like the fillets have just disintegrated.
When the penne is al dente (usually 9–11 minutes, but follow the instructions on the package), strain the pasta and pour it into the frying pan with the anchovies. Stir well. Pour that mixture into the bowl of tomatoes and mozzarella, making sure to include all the anchovy bits. Stir well.
Add salt and pepper and freshly grated Parmesan to taste.
Note: This recipe can be served room temperature but not cold.
Read more about Amanda Brooks’ farm life and try out more of her recipes in her book, Farm from Home:
photograph by Amanda Brooks