Warm weather arrives and suddenly the kitchen color palette shifts from the tender greens of spring to vibrant reds, purples, deep sea green. In Italy, the men are tan, the women wear spectacularly high heels, and everyone struts their stuff. It’s an irresistible, seasonal call to go out and play.
It’s a perfect time to experiment with textures, temperatures, colors. Not serious cooking, but light, fun and flavorful cooking.
Here’s a colorful, rustic pasta recipe that combines raw tomatoes, cooked onions, chunks of parmigiana cheese and lots of olives. Like Italy in the summer: colorful and sexy.
Choose a dry pasta that has nooks and crannies. I used ‘caserecce’; short rolled up tubes that catch and hold the sauce.
2 big handfuls of cherry tomatoes
1 handful of olives
10 – 15 fresh, just picked spinach leaves
1 big sweet red onion
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 hunk of parmigiana cheese
A few basil leaves and some parsley
A small glug of balsamic vinegar to finish (optional)
(It’s summer time…do you really think I was going to stand around measuring out the tomatoes and spinach?? Our garden is just starting to produce so I take what I can get.)
Put your pasta water on to boil. The sauce will be ready when the pasta is cooked.
Peel and slice the onions and gently saute them with a glug of olive oil. Use a sauce pan big enough to hold the cooked pasta. Add the chopped garlic.
Roughly chop the tomatoes and set aside.
Roughly chop the spinach, basil and parsley leaves.
Chop the parmigiana up into bite sized pieces.
When the pasta is not quite done, scoop a ladle full of salted pasta water into the onion pot.
Drain the pasta and add to the onions.
Add the spinach, basil and parsley to the pot and let the leaves wilt for a minute. Add the cheese and olives and toss well.
Place the pasta in a serving bowl and top with the raw tomatoes. Mix well, add the balsamic vinegar if you like, serve with a smile…and take off those high heels! Dinner will taste much better if you are bare foot.