This is a quick dish that is big on flavor and short on prep time. It's another one of my sister's great recipes. You can grill-up some chicken and add that in, too.
The trick to making this dish in record-time is to buy the pesto. Most jarred pestos are awful, but the refrigerated ones tend to be very good. My favorite is Kirkland's Basil Pesto from Costco. It's bright green - that's what you want. Don't buy the army green, unrefrigerated pesto. Army green, unrefrigerated pesto - bad.
Bright-green, refrigerated pesto - good, and less expensive than making it from scratch. If you don't have a membership to Costco, Gordon's Food Service has a very good one as well or check-out your Italian market.
1 lb dried penne pasta
1 lb cherry tomatoes
1 lb small mozzarella balls
1 22 ounce jar of good quality basil pesto
1 TBSP olive oil
Fill a large pot with water, add a generous amount of salt, and let the water come to a boil. Add the penne and follow the cooking directions on the package.
In a large, non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil on high heat. Add the tomatoes to the hot pan and season with salt and pepper. Sear the tomatoes on each side until they start to brown and blister. Take the tomatoes off of the heat and set aside.
Drain the pasta and reserve some of the pasta liquid.
Add 3/4 of the jar of pesto and stir. Stir in the tomatoes and mozzarella. Add more pesto if desired. If you would like to thin the sauce a bit, add a little pasta water.
Serve hot or at room-temperature.