Well, that was the initial thought anyway. I love to cook and I love to bake, so when I signed up to do one of these diaries the trickiest part was deciding what to do. The possibilities are endless! Since the week I chose was in August, and I also love to garden, I thought I would narrow it down by making a summer meal from the garden, which I try to do usually starting right about now.
Unfortunately, the drought and extreme heat in Illinois has taken it's toll, and my garden this year is less than stellar. I was lucky enough to grab some ripe tomatoes from my next door neighbor that I have been watering and house sitting for (they told me to I swear!) and gather a few other ingredients to make this happen.
What's For Dinner is a community diary on Saturday evenings about 7:30 pm EST where cyber friends get together and discuss food and share recipes. Pull your chair up to the table and leave politics at the door. Pour yourselves a drink and relax.
It is hard to imagine a summer dinner that did not include tomatoes, so I am making Ina Garten's Summer Pasta with a couple of minor adjustments and a couple of ideas for next time. Here is the list of ingredients:
4 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
Good olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
18 large basil leaves, julienned, plus extra for serving
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried angel hair pasta
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Lucky for me, I did get a harvest of garlic a few weeks ago and that is what I used because there is nothing, NOTHING, like fresh garlic!
Chopped! Since the garlic just gets heated through by the hot pasta and is basically raw it the dish, a fine chop is important. I do like uneven chunks for texture though so I made sure that I didn't turn it into a paste.
Up next is basil, which is also doing well in my garden. I have a really cool one that I have never seen before this year called columnar basil as well as the traditional Italian basil so I used both. I did not count out the number of leaves, I just grabbed a handful of each.
I ended up using a combination of cherry and grape tomatoes in different colors and cut some in half, some in quarters so again I would have a variety of sizes.
Everything I chopped gets tossed to a large bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. I reduced to the olive oil to 1/3 cup and even that is way more that I usually cook with but once in a while I don't mind a splurge. I made up the liquid difference with a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water at the end.
Mix it up!
By the way, see that liquid forming? It is summer crack, it is obscenely delicious and addictive!! What I did while I was waiting the four hours for it to macerate was snack on mozzarella balls that I dipped into it. Next time I will double all of the ingredients except the pasta and Parmesan and add a bunch and then remove them right before I add the pasta to use as some point as an appetizer (if they make it). ;)
After about 4 hours, boil the pasta, strain, and add to the bowl. I switched to penne from the spaghetti in the recipe because I by far prefer a thicker shaped pasta to a stringy one and it worked perfectly.
Toss with Parmesan, and that is it, a ridiculously easy and delicious dinner that can be made mostly from your summer bounty - provided that it was more bountiful than mine!
Besides the other changes I made, next time I will thinly slice up some swiss chard and add that for a little color and nutrition. Not to mention, it seems to flourish when nothing else will grow. :)
Now it is your turn, what's for dinner?