Sunday, August 22, 2010

Summer Pasta Toss

I refuse to believe summer is nearly over. It feels like mid-July today and I need to get outside asap to enjoy it! It makes me sad to think in just a few short weeks, delicious summer meals like this will be only a distant memory. Because believe me, there is NO WAY you can make this with out-of-season ingredients. It just wouldn't even compare.

I was feeling like things haven't been green enough on this ol' blog so I stopped at the Midtown Farmer's Market yesterday on my way back into Minneapolis after a gorgeous wedding "up north" to stock up on some emerald veggies. I got green beans, fava beans, baby zucchinis, pattypan squash, tons of basil, and kale.

There are about fifty gazillion ways to make pasta, here are the four things I suggest are required for a Summer Pasta Toss like this one.
  1. Pasta - any kind, shape, or size (and I recommend whole wheat pastas because they taste better, are more filling, and are loaded with fiber and other vitamins and minerals).
  2. Green Vegetables - again, any kind. But make sure you have a lot of them - I would even say have more green stuff than pasta!
  3. Roasted Cherry Tomatoes - sure, you could use fresh tomatoes but roasting makes them sweet and juicy and complex. It also lets the olive oil create a kind of rich tomato sauce that will coat the pasta.
  4. Basil - lots of it. Add a big handful, then add some more. When you think you've added too much, put in 5 more big leaves.
The roasted tomatoes are crucial here. I got a big bag of FREE cherry tomatoes from my mom's friend Connie. I used a bunch to make gazpacho and the rest were starting to get soft and wrinkly so I threw them in the oven a few days ago coated in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake until they start to turn brown on top and are sizzling and juicy (they may pop in your oven and make lots of noise!). At this point, you can use immediately, freeze for some later delicious creation, or refrigerate to use within a few days.

I used an entire big bunch of kale, sauteed with an onion for extra flavor. I also added about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar just to give that extra something special. It might be no surprise to regular readers that the kale was my favorite part of this pasta, it gave a chewiness and richness that was needed to make a complete meal.

Then I boiled up the other green veggies with the pasta during the last 3 minutes of cooking.

Toss it all together and add tons of basil, then if you want to you can garnish with toasted pinenuts and parmesan cheese.

This pasta toss will taste amazing freshly made and piping hot, room temperature, or even cold like a pasta salad. I have tried it every which way and enjoyed it equally all times. Truly, you should try this dish. It's fantastic and I'm already thinking about making it again.

Summer Pasta Toss
1/2 box whole wheat pasta (I used spaghetti)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 cups green veggies, chopped into bite-sized pieces (I used zucchini, pattypan squash, and green beans)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 head kale, ribs removed and chopped
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Roast tomatoes: coat tomatoes with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees on rimmed sheet for 30 minutes or until slightly charred and sizzling

Saute kale (or other greens): sweat chopped onions in olive oil, salt, and pepper in big skillet over medium-high heat. When soft, add chopped kale and stir. Add 1 Tbsp water and 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, then cover to wilt about 5 minutes.

Boil pasta: follow package instructions. During the last 2-3 minutes, add chopped green veggies. Drain.

Mix everything together. Add lots of chopped fresh basil. If you want to, garnish with toasted pinenuts and finely shredded parmesan cheese.

ONE YEAR AGO: Mexi-Hippie Chow

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