Fresh veggies from the farmers market pair perfectly with bow-tie pasta.
Photo by Courtesy Flickr/Jeffreyw
What does it take to make you smile on a late summer day? For me, it's not always air conditioning or ice-cold watermelon. Sometimes it's a bowl filled with pasta, chicken stock and fresh vegetables, accompanied by a chunk of cheese, a stack of crackers and a glass of tea.
First, let's go shopping. Grab your favorite wicker basket, backpack, reusable shopping bag, or maybe a little red wagon with the wooden slatted sides. What you use depends on where you shop for vegetables and how much you want to take home. Then set out for the nearest farmers' market or purveyor of fresh, locally grown produce, be it an open-air, metal-roofed building with plenty of parking or a hand-built wooden vegetable stand alongside the road. Speaking of farmers, some of you just might be growing your own in your garden. I say, "Yea for y'all!"
After cooking this meal, I carried my bowl to the table and set beside it an already-opened sleeve of crackers. Last but not least, I poured my glass of sweet iced tea and took it to the table. Smiling, I savored the textures, flavors and seasonings. From the first bite I knew the leftovers would be good. Now, you know how I make myself smile on a late summer day. Join me?
Ingredients (feeds 4 to 6):
Olive/canola oil mixture (Fill a plastic squeeze bottle with half olive oil, half canola oil)
Around 30 ounces of chicken broth
1 bunch of young carrots
2 small yellow zucchini
3 small green zucchini
Around 14 fresh okra pods
10 small vine-ripened tomatoes
5 spring onions
Cheese of your choice (Mine is Pecorino Sole di Sardegna, a semi-soft pure sheep's milk cheese from Italy.)
Wash vegetables thoroughly and drain dry. Slice the vegetables into the shapes and sizes you want, such as thin and circular slices of onion, chunks of dense carrots, zucchini cut into yellow- or green-edged coins, and okra and tomatoes minus stem caps and left whole.
Turn the stove burner to medium-high heat. Put a large pot on the burner and squirt in your mixture of olive and canola oil, just enough to cover the bottom.
To check the heat of the oil, toss a slice of onion into the pot. When it sizzles, throw in the rest of the onion slices and stir with a large spoon, thoroughly coating them with the oil mixture and breaking them apart into a jumble of sauteing circles. Stir. Monitor your onions as they change from opaque to translucent. This takes only a few minutes. When the onions are translucent, pour in the chicken stock.
Add the zucchini, okra and carrots. Sprinkle two small pinches of salt into the pot. Stir. Cook for five minutes. Turn down the heat to simmer, toss in the tomatoes and put on the lid. Stir the vegetables every 10 minutes. Check for doneness by pushing a fork into the carrots.
After 30 minutes of cooking the vegetables, cook the pasta in another pot. While it boils, slice the cheese. Strain the pasta when done.
To serve, toss a handful of pasta into a bowl, then ladle in vegetables and chicken stock until the look of the combo suits you.
You can also freeze half of the Bow-tie Bounty to enjoy in a few weeks. Feeds 4-6, depending on the size of your bowls.