I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that summer cooking is almost every bit as good as summer lovin’. Actually, I think it might be what replaces the thrill of summer lovin’ when you get old and boring. Because seriously, heirloom tomatoes covered with olive oil and basil? Or fresh sweet corn dripping with butter and salt? I really don’t need to say more, do I?
The beautiful, fresh, exploding with flavor summer ingredients speak for themselves so nicely that we just don’t need to do much to them. It is the time of year when simplicity rules — save the 20 ingredient dinner recipes for winter when you are struggling to drain some flavor from the cardboard produce from Mexico. No offense to Mexico — because I am quite sure your tomatoes are wonderful when you eat them there, but once they get to us, they suck.
And I know I say this all the time, but when you cook simply with local ingredients your kids will start to love all different kinds of vegetables. This recipe is a case in point: my daughter “hates” peas. Can’t stand them. “Pretend gags” when she eats them. Cried when she heard I was making pasta (her favorite!) with peas in it. How could I possibly take the thing she enjoys the most on the planet and render it unpalatable by adding peas? Well, she tried the peas in this recipe. Guess what? Loved them. It is like fresh vegetables are simply not the same things as their evil commercially-frozen twins.
Shelling the peas takes a bit of time … but the recipe is so easy that it really is the only prep involved. And the kids love to help with this job. Just make sure you give them a REALLY big bowl to do it in or your peas will be rolling around the floor like marbles. And get extra peas because the kids were eating them raw out of the bowl. Which is something I so distinctly remember doing with my grandmother — sitting on the back porch and shelling peas or lima beans from the garden and sneaking a few here and there. Those are the vivid memories I want my kids to have of childhood summers … because some day, when they are beyond the days of camp boyfriends and summers spent working at the beach counting their collective hook-ups, they will settle down and taste some fresh summer peas and feel positively orgasmic.
Pasta with Fresh Peas, Basil, and Mint
1 lb. of whole wheat pasta
2-3 cups of freshly shelled peas
Small bunch of fresh basil, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
Small bunch of fresh mint, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2-1 cup of freshly grated parmesan
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water. When the pasta has about 30-45 seconds remaining, throw in the peas and cook. Drain pasta and peas immediately and leave a bit of the water clinging to the pasta. Return it to the pan and turn the heat off to the burner (the residual heat on the stove is usually enough to finish the dish).
2. Toss the pasta and peas with olive oil and garlic and stir to combine. Add in the grated parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.
3. When ready to serve, toss with freshly chopped basil and mint. Serve with additional parmesan.