Monday, July 11, 2011

July Recipe Roundup

Today, I did something I don't usually do, which is make two different but related meals for lunch and for dinner. It was mostly because I was home with time to cook and because I spent about $30 on vegetables at the farmers' market on Saturday and was determined to use at least some of them before they'd been languishing in the fridge for too long.

I've written about both of these recipes before, but they are both so good and so perfect for the season, that I wanted to put them in the spotlight again.

The first dish--my lunch, as it were--is early summer orzo, a recipe I mostly made up. It's a mix of vegetables diced into tiny pieces, sauteed in olive oil and then combined with a minimal amount of orzo. I usually make it in the sweet spot of early summer, when both peas and corn are available. I combine these with summer squash, onions, garlic, basil and toasted pine nuts. The key is to have everything cut the same size (i.e., the size of a pea or corn kernel or pine nut or piece of orzo) so that each bite has a little bit of everything in it. The other key is to add the orzo to the vegetables rather than the other way around--this way, the orzo is incorporated into the vegetables rather than the vegetables serving as a complement to the pasta. You could make this with many different vegetable combinations, but I'm partial to the early summer one. Then again, I was amazed that shell peas were still available on Saturday, and I can't imagine we'll see too many more of them after this week's mini heat wave, so I can see making this pea-less, out of necessity. Sprinkle some Parmesan if you like, and you're set for lunch, dinner or a snack. It is equally delicious re-heated.

Here's the recipe, from June 2009: Early Summer Orzo

The second recipe comes from a Mark Bittman "Minimalist" column from the summer of 2004, his Pasta with Corn, Zucchini and Tomatoes. I have been making this dish every summer since then, which I think is the definition of a keeper. So, in the early evening, after I'd come inside sweaty and grubby from mowing the lawn and watering the garden, I found myself, once again, chopping onions and garlic, dicing squash and cutting corn off of the cob. And the sauteing starts off the same way. The key difference here is the tomatoes. Tomatoes wouldn't work in the first recipe because they fall apart, and there, you're looking for intact bits. With this recipe, soupy is fine. You add the tomatoes around the time you put the water for the pasta in, and by the time the pasta is cooked, the tomatoes have broken down, and you have a delicious smelling pan of vegetables on the stove, waiting to be dumped upon the hot pasta. This dish might not be quite as pretty as the other one, but it's equally delicious.

Here's the recipe, from July 2008: Pasta with Corn, Zucchini and Tomatoes

Now, I have two different kinds of leftovers to eat this week, and while the chard and lettuce are still in my fridge, waiting for their turn, I can feel somewhat satisfied that most, if not all, of those vegetables I schlepped home so hopefully on Saturday are going to end up in my stomach rather than in the compost.


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