In winter, I'll happily spend an afternoon in the kitchen fussing over a beef stew or a spaghetti sauce, but sweltering summer weather calls for recipes that don't require hours slaving over the proverbial hot stove. Happily, quick recipes also capitalize on the fresh flavors of summer's in-season ingredients.
I first ate this pasta dish in the garden of fabulously bombastic and talented family friend Julie Daniel (aka She Who Must be Worshiped and Adored) on a summer evening in Eugene, Oregon. The fresh, aromatic pesto seemed the perfect thing in the leafy shadows of Julie's yard. I was in my late teens and not particularly obsessed with cooking, but having been coached by my dad in the fine art of making cooks feel appreciated, I asked her about the recipe anyway. She explained the process in typically straightforward terms, made charming by her slight British accent and impeccable sense of humor. Years later the meal still lingered in my mind, and I eventually created my own facsimile. While pesto is a useful staple year round, this recipe really only works for July, August, and September, when tomatoes are actually edible raw. The decadence of Parmesan, pine nuts, and olive oil is sideswiped by the fresh taste of summer tomatoes; the end result is satisfying, yet not overly heavy. To to truly celebrate the ephemeral graciousness of summer evening, eat outside in the shade or on the porch.
prep time: 15 minutes
stove time: 8 minutes
for pesto sauce:
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of pine nuts
2 cups of fresh basil leaves
salt to taste
pot of water
3 fresh tomatoes (chopped)
1 head of broccoli (separated into 1 inch florets)
1 package of pasta, preferably farfalle or penne
dash of salt
dash of olive oil
pepper to taste
1. Put water to boil for pasta. Add dash of salt and olive oil.
2. Add pesto ingredients to blender and blend until ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
3. Add pasta to boiling water. When pasta is about 1 minute from being done, add broccoli. Cook for 1 minute or less.
4. Drain pasta and broccoli and put both into salad bowl. Add pesto sauce. Depending on how rich you like your meals, you may want to store some of the sauce for later.
5. Add chopped tomatoes to bowl and stir gently. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
6. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and pepper.