My favorite season is Fall for a variety of reasons, not least of which is I look best in fall clothes and it’s all about me. Summer is wonderful, however, because summer means fresh vegetables everywhere. If a bounty of fresh veg doesn’t mean happiness to you, you haven’t been served vegetables the right way.
I have a good friend who refused to eat vegetables, no matter how I served them. Only after years of cajoling did I convince her to try some of mine. She is now a vegetable freak, she can’t get enough. One night she finally explained, “My mom used to take broccoli and boil it until it was white. That’s how she cooked all our vegetables. I thought that was how vegetables tasted!”
Makes me want to weep for vegetable haters everywhere.
While we covered a great way to cook vegetables in an earlier post about roasting (Sunday Night Vegetable Roast) another of my favorite ways to eat fresh vegetables is with pasta. In the fall when not in season, roasted vegetables are a wonderful combination with pasta. But when you have vegetables fresh off the vine, there’s no need even to cook them! Trust me on this.
An added bonus is that on a hot summer day, with this recipe, other than boiling some pasta you don’t have to turn on any ovens and your kitchen stays cool. Like in Autumn. How the weather always should be…
I give you my Summer No-Cook Pasta, which we could also call a Farmer’s Market Pasta. I’ve taken to making this a couple of times a month on Sundays after hitting the wonderful Farmer’s Market near my house. It only takes some chopping for prep and you’ll have a fresh, healthy, mouth-watering dish that will blow everyone away.
- While the flavors in this recipe are a glorious combo, you can easily branch out with whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand. Whatever you choose, I recommend staying with the tomatoes (unless you are a tomato hater, sigh) and be sure to include two other ingredients that might surprise you: the jalapeno for spice, and the mint, which tempers the pepper and truly elevates the dish.
- For the people avoiding gluten, you can use gluten-free pasta, spaghetti squash, quinoa or zucchini noodles. This pasta is worth a cheat at least once a summer, though, if you can handle it.
- ONE MORE NOTE: Yes, you could always add salmon or chicken to this. But honestly I am as carniverous as they come and this simply doesn’t need it. Take a break from the meat and try an all veg dinner. You won’t be sorry.
‘NO-COOK’ SUMMER PASTA
(Serves 4 as a wonderful entree with an appetizer, or 6 as a great first course… perhaps a summer grilled dinner!)
2 large cartons of cherry tomatoes, various colors and sizes
1/2 half large red onion
2 ears of corn (white corn works great here)
3 cloves garlic, minced
red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1 bunch of basil, julienned
10-12 mint leaves, julienned
4 oz goat cheese
1 lb bucatini
For those who love cooking on the fly, the recipe is: chop up your veg, toss the chopped veg with seasoning, then toss with fresh cooked pasta. Voila.
But to get it just right:
- Halve the cherry tomatoes. If they are large, quarter them. As you prep the tomatoes, throw the halves or quarters in a large bowl.
- Halve the jalapeno. Scoop out the white pith in the middle, reserving the seeds. Slice the halves very thin (I use a mandolin here but very thin slices with a knife work.) Add to the bowl, along with your preference of fire with the seeds. I like a teaspoon of the seeds but that does give some fire. You can always add more later if you like the spice!
- Remove the corn kernels from the cobs. Add to bowl.
- Dice the red onion. Add to bowl.
- Add minced garlic.
- Add some olive oil… a few ‘glugs’… then 4 or 5 good shakes of red wine vinegar. You want the mixture wet and covered but not swimming in liquid.
- Salt and pepper the mixture to taste, stirring everything together. Let this sit at least as long as you boil the pasta but I like to let it sit for least 30 minutes or an hour, letting the flavors come together. Taste every once in a while and add seasoning or spice accordingly.
- Prepare your bucatini according to package directions. Be sure to salt the water. NOTE: Penne or spaghetti also work very well. But give bucatini a try if you have not.
- When the pasta is about half done, toss the basil and mint into the ‘sauce’. The mint might sound strange but it makes a huge difference in the sauce, adding some nice depth/umami and countering the spice of the jalapeno.
- When the pasta is finished, drain it, reserving a cup of pasta water.
- Toss the bucatini with a couple of glugs of olive oil, the goat cheese and ¼ cup pasta water. Toss well, developing a nice creamy sauce. Add more pasta water if need be. You don’t want it watery at all, just creamy.
- Then toss in your no cook sauce!
- NOTE: With this type of sauce, when you toss it, it can all sink to the bottom. Toss well, then when you serve in bowls, make sure to dig down into the pot for all the wonderful vegetable goodness to put on top.