You Red It Here First!

 

I’m stuck. Or rather, my tomatoes are. The farmer’s markets are exploding with their end-of-summer bounty, my basil plant is going like gangbusters (don’t you love that word, gangbusters?!), and my kitchen is begging for fresh tomatoes. And my tomato plant is just sitting out in the garden, producing tiny green globes at the world’s slowest pace, mocking me.

Tomatoes might be the most perfect fruit. They go in salads, in drinks, in sauces, in condiments. Tomato red thrills on cars, as a shade of lipstick, and who can forget the thrill of shimmying on a red dress for the first time? All women should own a red dress.

My grandpa was the master of tomatoes. I have vivid memories of helping him plant them, of watering them, of picking fruit for dinner, and even of their perfect, homegrown taste that no grocery store tomato has even been able to replicate. But I don’t know his secret – I’m afraid I never will – and so we sit, my tomatoes and I. But this week, in their honor – their stubborn, angry plant honor – we’ll be talking tomatoes. From dressing to eating to drinking (oh yes, the drinking) it’s all tomatoes all the time.

And I hope by this time next week, I’ll have a positive report from the garden. Ideally including the word gangbusters.

 

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Picnic Pasta

A picnic and a barbecue aren’t quite the same, but so many elements align: outdoor eating, friends, good food, and that sudden panic when you realize you have not yet prepared the perfect outdoor dish. Eeeeps! But wait. Stop. Survey the scene. Pasta hodgepodge? Check. Veggies? Check. Lots of EVOO and garlic (two things my kitch is never, ever without)? checkety check.

I basically whipped up a variation on this, to pretty good success, if I do say so meself. AND, people. AND. It was dead easy.

Ingredients:

1. Conchiglioni (big shell pasta)

2. Cheese tortelloni

3. One and a half cups each of snap peas, corn, and cherry tomatos

4. One half cup of fresh basil leaves

5. Ricotta

6. Evoo, garlic, salt and pepper, parmesan

Directions:

1. Start your noodle water while simultaneously heating a few glugs of EVOO in a skillet.

2. When the water hits a rolling boil and the skillet is snapping, start the pasta (all together now! Shells and tortelloni in the same pot is A-OK!) and throw the peas, corn and tomatoes into the skillet and spread them out so they roast evenly.

3. As the noodles are churning and the veggies are roasting, pour ricotta, lots of EVOO, as many cloves of garlic as you like (I went for six because the bowl was big!) and a few leaves of basil. As before, zoom zoom zoom until your cheese mixture becomes almost pourable. Think of it as a very light cheese sauce. The ricotta is just something you eyeball, but use your best judgment. You can do it!

4. Once your veggies have a little bit of char and the noodles are done, combine everything into a big bowl, drizzling sauce over the ingredients as you pour, so there’s no clumping. Put it in the fridge to chill if you’re serving it as pasta salad. Once it’s nice and cool, top with freshly grated parm and torn basil leaves.

Do you ever create multiple variations of a dish with the same ingredients?

Do you have go-to ingredients that you would never be caught without?

I’d love to hear!