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Quick, delicious summer supper. August 5, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, homesteading, recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. With all the fresh, delicious produce in stores, farmers’ markets, and our gardens now, I’ll bet you sometimes find yourself with a few “odd veggies out” that just didn’t make it into last night’s dinner: a couple of ears of corn, a single summer squash, half a bell pepper, a handful of green and/or yellow wax beans, a cup of arugula or spinach. Not enough to make full servings for everyone, but impossible to waste.

I know I do! So I make a versatile, fast pasta dish that our friend Ben and I love. It’s perfect for summer, since it’s not too heavy and adapts to whatever veggies you’d like to use up, I mean, feature. Here’s the basic recipe:

Bring pasta water to a boil. While it’s heating up, add extra-virgin olive oil and butter to a large, heavy pan. (I love my LeCreuset enamelled cast-iron Dutch oven for this.) When the butter has melted, add a diced sweet onion (such as Vidalia or WallaWalla) and saute until it clarifies. Then add sliced mushrooms, a small carton or as many or few as you’d like. When the mushrooms soften and release their liquid, add salt (we like RealSalt) and pepper to taste, along with basil, thyme, and oregano, also to taste.

You don’t always have to add mushrooms, but I like to because they add a rich, filling, meaty taste. And I would never, ever skip the onion!

Now for the improvisation: If I have extra ears of corn, I’ll cut the kernels off the cob and add them. If I have Sugar Snap peas or green and/or yellow wax beans I’ll cut off the ends, cut them in half, and toss them in. If I have a yellow, orange, or red bell pepper, I’ll dice it and toss it in. If I have a lone zucchini or yellow summer squash, I’ll slice it in advance, grill it, and then toss in the grilled slices, probably saving some thinner, ungrilled slices for the salad.

Any and all combinations are delicious. I love a combo of corn and blanched lima beans (a la succotash) as well. If you wanted, you could toss in some shredded carrots and/or cabbage or yellow beets (don’t add red beets, they’ll bleed).

Once your pasta—I like spaghetti with this, but fettucine is fine, too—is almost al dente, toss in any greens (arugula, kale, spinach, collards). (Note: If you’re using fresh rather than dried basil, now’s the time to add it, too.) Then, once you’ve drained the pasta, add it to the pot, stirring well to mix. Now, add your cheese: shredded Parmesan or Swiss, alone or with the added kick of crumbled feta, blue cheese or Gorgonzola. Stir quickly to melt the cheese and then serve with cracked black pepper and crushed red pepper so everyone can season the dish to their taste.

I love to serve this with a caprese salad of multicolored ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mozarella, and a drizzle of good olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and plenty of salt and fresh-cracked black pepper on a bed of Romaine lettuce. Yum!!! But you could also serve a conventional salad, saving some thin-cut squash slices, Sugar Snaps, fresh corn kernels, and diced bell pepper to add to the greens. Relax, pour some wine, and enjoy!

‘Til next time,

Silence

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