Backpacking Dad’s Simple Tomato Pasta

04/03/2011 By Shawn Burns

It has been nice and sunny here the last few days. After weeks of rain, the contrast has prematurely convinced me that summer has arrived, and will refuse to relinquish the hold it has taken over my front lawn. Kids were running around in front today, blowing bubbles, eating popsicles, and enjoying a small picnic. If this is a portent of things to come, it is going to be a very good summer indeed.

I almost never want to cook when summer really does roll in. When we lived in our tandoori-oven-apartment, with no air conditioning, and a resting temperature about fifteen degrees higher than the floor below us, cooking in the summer was completely out of the question. I learned a few recipes for “cooked” entrées that required as little cooking as possible. This tomato pasta was one of them. It’s about the easiest thing in the world to cook, and can be served at any temperature. When it’s served hot, the mozzarella will melt just enough before setting to offer a different texture than the pasta, and become the focus of the dish. When it’s served cold, the brightening of the tomatoes begun by the lemon zest is accentuated, and suddenly it’s all about the tomatoes. Served at room temperature, the al dente pasta is the star.

I made it for dinner tonight, and I was even more convinced that summer was here to stay.


Recipe: Backpacking Dad’s Simple Tomato Pasta


  1. 2 cups farfalle (bowtie pasta), cooked
  2. 6 oz firm mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  3. 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  4. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  5. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  6. 1/2 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  7. 1/2 tablespoon dried basil (or a whole lot of fresh leaves, sliced)
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 teaspoon pepper


  1. How’s this for simple? Mix everything together.

Diet type: Vegetarian

Diet (other): Low calorie

Number of servings (yield): 4

Meal type: dinner

Culinary tradition: Italian

My rating: 3 stars:  ★★★☆☆ 1 review(s)

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