January 22, 2013
Quick Veggie Garden Pasta
It's that time of year again, where despite the HOT, miserable weather we've been having, the vegetable garden is showering us with bounty almost faster than we can eat it
I know the Northern Hemisphere is freezing, while we in Australia are battling record searing heat and multiple devastating bushfires. We all have our own particular climate problems and I hope you are all safe and well, but with weeks here where the thermometer has rarely dropped from the thirties and longed-for-rain promised but rarely forthcoming, it's a bit hard to work up enough enthusiasm to eat- let alone cook, a nice meal
Some nights the less cooking I do the better! No oven or grill to add heat to the kitchen, no standing over a smoking hot BBQ plate.... just a simple pot of hot water is all that's needed to make a fresh, tasty, healthy meal- with a little help from my friends in the veggie garden
This is a recipe I've been playing around with for years- if you can even call it a 'real' recipe!
A packet of gluten free pasta, some garden veggies sliced then quickly blanched to wilt just a little, but retaining texture, and simply dressed with basil and olive oil. So simple, but oh so delicious.
For more of a substantial meal for the carnivores, a handful of leftover cooked chicken, or shredded ham or salami could certainly be added- but I like the pure simplicity of this dish and it certainly lets the veggies be the star
1 packet of gluten free Spaghetti (I prefer the San Remo brand)
A few freshly plucked Zucchini, Carrots and Tomatoes
(you can use whatever is at hand- nice little peas, some sliced fresh beans, capsicums.. etc)
Lovely Olive Oil
Salt and freshly ground Pepper
Also have at the ready a colander with plenty of drain holes, and one that will fit the whole lot of pasta, and more, in at once
First things first- put a large pot of water on to boil, this takes the longest to prepare out of all the recipe ingredients. I had plenty of time to scrub and prep and slice and dice everything else while the pot boiled, and the pasta cooked. Perfect timing actually!
Once it comes to a fast rolling boil, season it generously with salt and pop in the pasta to cook
While this is doing it's thing, prepare the veggies.
The ideal is to have lovely long strips of vegetable to mimic the shape and size of the spaghetti. I love using this great julienne peeler I have, it makes perfect little strings with no more effort than peeling. They are available at just about every kitchenware shop and every Asian grocer that I've ever walked into. If you don't have one of these, and don't want to muck about with knife work, just use your ordinary peeler to get lovely long strips and just apply a bit more pressure than usual to make the pieces a bit thicker.
If I was using flat strips of veggies, I would probably change my choice of pasta to fettuccine just to keep a uniform look. It might sound silly, but pretty food is even tastier!
Once you've finished with the zucchini and carrots ( I know they're not orange, but sadly they're not the pretty purple that was advertised on the seed packet either) pop the strips into the bottom of the colander and place it in the sink for ready draining
Now for the dressing:
Chop the tomatoes as finely or as chunky as you like- I prefer nice and dainty to match the daintiness of the thin spaghetti. Tear or chop the basil leaves, add a good pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper for bite, and a good glug or two of lovely olive oil.
I have a stash of flavoured olive oils for dressings, and just happen to have a Basil infused one in my cupboard, otherwise a nice grassy EVOO would have worked well too
When the spaghetti is done, immediately pour the whole pot directly over the vegetable strips in the colander and drain really well.
Give it a few good shakes, but don't let it just sit or the veggies are in danger of overcooking and losing their lovely freshness
Quickly tip on all the dressing ingredients and stir it all through until beautifully mixed together and glossy from the oil
Check for seasoning, and serve immediately drizzled with a little more of that lovely olive oil- remember it's good for you!
See, I promised you that this was a quick, easy and tasty dish- didn't I?
Barely any cooking for these hot, hot days, or when you're in a huge rush but still want a light, healthy dinner. What could be better than this?
So Dear Readers, is it hot or cold in your part of the world, and do you have a veggie garden too?