I am not a fan of summer.
I know I’m supposed to love it, because everyone keeps telling me so. Starting right after Valentine’s Day, the stores start putting out beach chairs and tiki torches and charcoal briquettes and every woman’s magazine is telling me how to lose those annoying last five pounds or how to have perfect beach nails or how to look “perfectly boho” when I go to Coachella or Glastonbury, which I have absolutely no intention of doing.
Honestly? All I really want to rock when it’s 95° outside is my air conditioning.
So I play along with the gag for a while. I pull out my shorts and my tank tops and shave my legs a little more often. I wear my Birkies without the socks and put the handknits away for a few months. I look at sundresses and strappy sandals and wonder if I really need to buy a bathing suit or finally invest in a pair of prescription sunglasses. I look at recipes for summer salads and smoothies.
And then, right around this time of the summer, I stop doing it. All of it.
I quit lusting after long, flowing dresses I’ll never wear and sandals that look like trouble. I get sick of calling salads dinner. I start hating my shorts, shaving every day, the hum the air conditioner makes. I look at my French terry knit shirts and comfy house socks and yoga pants and whisper, “We’ll be together again, real soon. I promise.”
I pull out the cookbooks and drool over bean soups and stews with red wine and root vegetables. I start to crave apple raisin cake. I want to plan my Sundays around football. I want to be cozy.
And while I will never, ever, turn down a perfect white nectarine or Brandywine tomato, I’m too much of an experienced cook to understand that things that are eaten in season always, always taste better to me. I found this recipe in a very, very funny book about gardening and it’s the highest use for those beautiful tomatoes and basil. Add a cucumber salad, some bread and fresh peaches for dessert and hey, it’s dinner time.
One thing, though; this recipe says it serves four, but I think you can easily serve six. I don’t know how this is on the second day, but I plan on just zapping it in the microwave just long enough to warm it up and adding a bit more olive oil, Romano, salt and pepper.
I’m still ready for the butternut squash, though.
- 30 (more or less) fresh basil leaves, washed
- 1 pound of medium-sized shells or other pasta (the Barilla medium shells were perfect for this)
- About 2 pounds of absolutely ripe, fresh tomatoes
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup grated Romano cheese
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp fresh chopped Italian parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Get a big pot of water up to boil for the pasta.
- Slice each tomato around its equator and stick your finger into the little chambers and get the seeds out. You don’t have to get all of them. And be gentle.
- Chop them into medium-sized chunks and put them in a colander for a few minutes to get the excess liquid out of them. Put them in a large bowl. Chop the basil and the parsley and add them to the tomatoes.
- Peel and smash a clove of garlic (keep it as whole as you can). Heat up the olive oil in a small pan and add the garlic. Saute it for a few minutes; don’t let the garlic brown. Take the garlic out and add the garlic oil to the tomatoes.
- Chop the mozzarella into 1/2″ dice, or do what I did. I got a 1/2 lb. container of fresh mozz in “perline” size, and I didn’t have to do any chopping. Grate the Romano.
- Cook the pasta until it’s done. When it’s almost done, add a generous pinch of salt and a good grind of pepper to the tomatoes. Give it a good stir.
- Drain the pasta, but don’t rinse it. Put it back in the pot, add the tomatoes, the mozz and half the Romano. Give it a good stir and put the lid back on. Let it sit for about 5 minutes so the mozz starts to melt. Spoon it into bowls, sprinkle with the rest of the Romano (or more if you want). Eat.