It’s hard to believe that it’s back-to-school time again — the end of long evenings and casual suppers.
The good news is the return to school schedules coincides with some of the best produce of the year. Maybe we have to be a bit more regimented in meal times, but we don’t have to settle for anything less than delicious.
Below are two recipes ideal for the season. First is a no-cook tomato sauce for pasta. Use the best fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes you can find, whether from your own backyard or a farmer’s market. A combination of colors makes it even more appealing. Feel free to throw in leftover cooked chicken or shrimp, grilled vegetables such as peppers or eggplant, or tiny balls of fresh mozzarella.
The second recipe consists of a roasted zucchini side dish. Serve this alongside any grilled meat or fish to jazz up dinner. This recipe is particularly good because you can make it entirely ahead and let it sit in the refrigerator for a few days.
Makes 6 servings
With nothing more than a green salad, this dish is quick and delicious. If you like a more pronounced garlic flavor, mince the garlic clove and toss it with the tomatoes and oil.
1 garlic clove, peeled, halved
2 1/2 to 3 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes (use a mix of cherry and traditional with a combination of colors and acidity levels)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or other herbs (such as oregano, parsley or rosemary)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound farfalle, penne or fusilli
Freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese (optional)
Rub the pasta serving bowl with the cut side of garlic. Add tomatoes, herbs, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Let stand while pasta cooks or up to 3 or 4 hours to let flavors blend.
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, but still firm to bite. Drain.
Transfer pasta to serving bowl. Toss with tomato mixture to combine. Adjust seasoning. Sprinkle with cheese if desired.
Makes 4 servings
About this time of year, we all have more zucchini than we know what to do with. Here’s an interesting way to draw out the flavors and fire them up just a little with red pepper flakes. This dish is as wonderful room temperature as it is warm.
3 pounds zucchini and yellow squash
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Cut each half into thirds, so that each zucchini yields 6 wedges (if using large zucchini, cut the thirds into 3-inch pieces.
Arrange zucchini on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar and salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast until just beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.
While zucchini cooks, whisk lemon juice, chili flakes and remaining olive oil and vinegar until well blended.
When zucchini is done, toss with dressing. Season with salt and pepper. If time allows, let the zucchini stand 15 to 30 minutes before serving, tossing occasionally.
Arrange on a platter. Sprinkle with lemon zest.