23 September 2009

Proof that I can use a kitchen when I put my mind to it

Perhaps some of you know about my lack of cooking experience. I did not grow up in a household that did a lot of cooking, so it's not that I don't enjoy doing it, it's just that cooking a meal doesn't come as naturally to me as it might to some people. Also, generally speaking, when someone does something cool in the kitchen, it's rather like magic to me. As all of my former roommates can tell you, I made them each teach me how to make something (whether I retained all of those skills is a different story...)

So I'm now living in a place that has a very large garden with lots of vegetables growing in it. AND, while I was in graduate school, I enacted a policy of not refusing free food; ergo, since I now have access to lots of free vegetables growing in this garden, I have not only picked them but I've been having a good time trying new ways of preparing them. The photo below shows some of the bounty I got from the garden, including Roma and yellow tomatoes, lemon cucumbers (those yellow things at the top left), zucchini, beets, and basil.

One of the more obvious meal solutions was to slice up the tomatoes, add the whole leaf basil, and pour some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top, with a pinch of salt. Delicious! Another dish was a beet salad that I made with the majority of the beets you see in this photo. To be clear, there are many, many beets.

BUT, I wanted to make something up, so I decided to try a pasta dish, since I had enough basil to make pesto. I will now attempt to write out my recipe in case you would like to try it. I promise it was good!

Auntie Em's Pink Pasta (it has a ring to it, right?)
Makes 3-4 servings
  • 1 cup basil pesto (if you want to make it fresh like I did, combine 2 cups fresh basil, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts, 3 medium sized garlic cloves - minced, and salt + pepper to taste in a food processor)
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped lemon cucumber (or another light vegetable of your choice; corn would work too)
  • 1 cup chopped beets (prepare the beets by boiling or baking, and skin them before chopping)
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 2 cups rotini pasta
  • 1/2 cup-ish of romano-parmesan cheese blend
Here's a photo of the ingredients I procured from the garden after preparing the beets and basil pesto to get them ready for final cooking (unfortunately we don't grow spinach so I had to get that from a bag):

Boil rotini pasta in salted water until tender to your liking; drain, place into large serving dish, and cover. Set aside.

In a skillet, combine pesto, spinach, zucchini, and cucumber over medium heat and stir. Fry vegetables in pesto until softened and spinach is kind of wilty (like spinach is supposed to look when you fry it in a skillet). When the combination is almost ready, add beets in and stir. The beets have already been cooked, essentially, so they just need to be warmed.

Finally, mix the vegetable-pesto combination in with the pasta in serving dish. And yes, the beets will start to make everything pink (thus the name of the dish). It should look roughly like this:

When everything is all mixed up, dish it out and sprinkle romano-parmesan cheese blend on top and serve. Voila! Delicious pink pasta!

Whew. Bet you never thought you'd find a recipe here, huh? :o)


Donna said...

I seriously have fantasies about the first time I ate a lemon cucumber. They are the best, and not easy to find in the Midwest.

eventer79 said...

I love beets! *sigh* I wish I had time to cook. Oh well.