Classic Mediterranean flavors and colors fly here; you've probably made some version of this dish without a recipe. The anchovies provide an unmistakable piquant note, but if the person(s) you're cooking for doesn't like them, leave them out. What's important is having the mozzarella ready to toss in as soon as the cooked pasta hits the bowl, so the cheese can melt just a bit.
If you're making your own fresh bread crumbs, 2 slices of crust-on bread should yield the right amount. We tested this with little balls of mozzarella as well; they don't insinuate themselves (read: soften) as well as the pieces of mozzarella you prep yourself. But they'll save you a few minutes.
Serve with grilled asparagus or just a glass of a dry rose.
Adapted from "The 30-Minute Cook," by Nigel Slater (Penguin Books, re-set edition 2006).
PAPPARDELLE WITH MOZZARELLA, GRILLED PEPPERS AND OLIVES
• Kosher salt
• 6 ounces dried pappardelle
• 3 or 4 jarred, roasted red and yellow bell peppers
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
• 1 tablespoon capers
• 2 anchovy fillets (optional)
• Leaves from 4 stems flat-leaf parsley
• 1/2 lemon Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 6 tablespoons fresh plain bread crumbs (may
• substitute cornbread crumbs)
• One 8-ounce ball fresh mozzarella (see headnote)
• Handful pitted black olives
Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt and then the pasta; cook according to the package directions.
Meanwhile, place a grill pan over medium-high heat. Rinse the peppers (amount to taste) under cool running water, then cut them into strips. Drizzle them with a tablespoon of the oil, then add to the pan and cook for a few minutes until sizzling and a few more char marks have appeared. Transfer to a heatproof bowl, along with any pan juices. While they're cooling in the mixing bowl, use a round-edge knife to cut them into thin strips.
Rinse the capers and the anchovies, if using; add to the bowl, mashing the latter slightly with your fingers as you work. Chop the parsley leaves and add to the bowl, along with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Squeeze in the juice of the 1/2 lemon. Use a fork to whisk vigorously, then season generously with pepper.
Melt the butter in a separate small skillet over medium heat. Stir in the bread crumbs until well coated; cook for a few minutes, just until golden brown. Cut the mozzarella into smallish bite-size chunks and reserve. Cut the olives into thin slices; add to the bowl.
Drain the pasta and add to the bowl, then immediately add the mozzarella; toss to incorporate. Divide between or among individual wide, shallow bowls. Top each portion with the toasted bread crumbs, then drizzle with a little more oil. Serve warm.
Nutrition | Per serving (based on 3): 670 calories, 24 g protein, 57 g carbohydrates, 37 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 125 mg cholesterol, 810 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugar