The best thing about this ridiculously easy pasta dish from Melia Marden is that you can eat it straight from the stove or serve it at room temperature for barbecues or picnics. Use a mixture of red and yellow cherry tomatoes if you can find them; they look fantastic alongside torn basil leaves and small chunks of fresh mozzarella.

Serves 4


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pasta
  • 5 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced (use a mandoline if you have one)
  • 2 pints mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), cut in half
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 12 large fresh basil leaves


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, place in a large bowl, and toss with a little oil.

Return the pot to the stove. Add the 6 Tbsp. oil and heat over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until it is soft and some of the edges are just beginning to turn golden, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, 1/2 tsp. salt, and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are juicy and broken down but some still hold their shape, about 5 minutes.

Add the pasta to the sauce. Cook, stirring, until well mixed and warmed through, about 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a large serving bowl, making sure some of the tomato pieces are on top. Let the pasta cool slightly (you don't want the cheese to melt on contact), tear the mozzarella into pieces, and scatter it over the pasta. Do the same with the basil leaves and top with more pepper to taste.

From Modern Mediterranean by Melia Marden © Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2013.

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