The theme of my summer has been all about keeping things simple. Not overcommitting myself, taking pleasure in the little things, and maximizing my relaxing. Though I told my office that I was happy to work remotely should the need arise, it didn’t, and I am thankful for that. And though I brought my camera along with me to the Pacific Northwest with a list of ideas for the blog, I didn’t pick it up once.
I slept, I read, I cooked, I swam, I hiked, I boated, I waterskied, and I married off my baby sister. It was a very, very good three weeks.
The meals are definitely one of my favourite parts of being at my family home. My mother has a great ocean-side garden and the meals often revolve around whatever is ripe. There is a revolving door of friends and family stopping through for dinner, and the house has been built to accommodate big crowds. I think we feasted 20-40 people on multiple occasions this summer.
Simplicity is key when you’re feeding a crowd, but I think also a key component of any summer meal. This pasta fits the bill perfectly.
The produce is uncooked, which means this is a one-pot meal. In-season cherry tomatoes and spinach are tossed with torn leaves of basil, salty black olives, and slivers of punchy garlic. Hot whole-wheat rotini is poured over the top, wilting the greens just so.
Served warm, preferably eaten outside, it is a perfect summer evening meal. The leftovers pack well for picnicking, or for packed lunches if you, like me, are heading back to work this week. Enjoy.
Simple Summer Pasta Recipe:
This simple summer pasta comes together quickly. You can put the water on for the pasta and start chopping your veg, and by the time the pasta is cooked you’ll be ready to go.
Serves 4-6. Adapted from Jamie Oliver.
400g whole wheat rotini
250g baby spinach leaves (about 4 cups packed)
500g (one pint) cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
150g (1/2 cup) pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced or crushed
1 bunch (1/2 cup packed leaves) fresh basil leaves, torn
2 Tbsp fresh oregano, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
6 Tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
Put a large pot of water on high heat. When it has come to a rolling boil, salt generously and place the pasta in to cook until al dente – about 10-15 minutes depending on your pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, prep everything else. Wash the spinach leaves and place into a large bowl. Add halved cherry tomatoes, then scrunch with your hands to break down a bit. Now add torn basil, oregano, crushed garlic, and red wine vinegar, and olive oil.
When the pasta has finished cooking, drain, and immediately add the hot pasta to the waiting vegetables. Toss well to combine, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Tomato toe-mah-toe. However you like to say it, there’s no doubt that the sweet summer fruits are juicy little bombs of nutrition. Tomatoes are known for their antioxidant content, notably lycopene – good for your prostates, fellas! Eating tomatoes can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Other antioxidants include vitamin C, and beta carotene. As far as phytonutrients go, tomatoes are top of the charts. They contain flavonoids, carotenoids, and glycosides to name just a few. Eating tomatoes has been shown to be beneficial for the profile of fats in our bloodstream. Specifically, tomato intake has been linked to reduced total cholesterol, reduced LDL cholesterol, and reduced triglyceride levels. This makes our hearts happy! Tomatoes are also an excellent source of vitamin K, copper, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B6, folate, niacin, vitamin E, and phosphorus.
All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014