Tuesday, July 10, 2012

More Scenes from an Urban Garden; A Summer Pasta

Absolutely no argument with this!
I love that sign.  It was found by the folks at the Food Trust - apparently posted originally by the Maine Organic Growers Association.  Anyhow and whoever, it's very accurate.  I realized this morning, drinking my tea and doing my usual "inspection" walk around the garden, that this is what I truly miss in the winter months - and I miss it a lot.  I feel like I start the day without those calming, pretty moments, and it doesn't get me started at all in the right way, I have to admit.
That said, we ain't too Zen in our approach now are we?  Even during this accelerated growing season, we gardeners & mini-farmers still get impatient!  I can't tell you how many times I've been inspecting everything for just a sign of a squash or a cucumber or an eggplant or pepper.  And just how long are those tomatoes going to stay green!?!
Well, it seems like the ship is coming in!  In the past few days - and in some cases I swear overnight - there are tiny cukes and very cute little zucchini; we already harvested a few of the Fairy Tale eggplants and the Long Purple plants have little eggplants starting.  We have a wide array of peppers this year - some from plants and some from seeds and they are all displaying peppers - in the case of the Seed Savers Chocolate Beauty and Ancho Gigantea, we have some really big peppers and lots of starts.  And at last those green tomatoes are turning orange (Sun Golds) and various colors (Sweet Pea Currants).  The Brandywine Pink, an heirloom full sized tomato is a much slower grower, so we are being patient with those plants. The potato pots are looking good, too.  The herbs have been very very prolific.  I have cut and dried herbs now twice before the 4th of July.  It seems we will definitely be stocked in dried and frozen herbs over the winter!
The plant above, while not edible, deserves a special shout out.  This is our "Hibby".  The first time we went to Key West on vacation, we returned in love with the tropical hibiscus;  they grow everywhere in a gorgeous array of colors.  We especially loved the daily hibiscus flowers left on our pillows when we returned to our room at the end of the day.  So we decided to add a tropical hibiscus to our garden.  The key word here is "tropical".  This tree winters by a southern window in my office on the 3rd floor of our house - quite the job each year:  up in the Fall, back down as soon as the Spring warms up enough.  She is 13 years old this summer.  She is just starting to bloom but we will have these blooms all summer - and hibiscus flowers only last for a day - whether you put them in water or not.  So you can let them die on the tree, or snip them and lay them on the table, or in the house, or - maybe - on someone's pillow.  Lovely.  
Some other pics of what's happening in our urban garden, followed by a delicious recipe for those cherry tomatoes.

Recipe:  Spaghetti Con Pomodorini e Pecorini

1 pound of spaghetti; salt to taste; 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil; 3 garlic cloves, crushed; 25 or so cherry tomatoes, halved; a bunch of fresh basil; freshly grated pecorino cheese

Put the pasta in boiling salted water, stir it
While pasta is cooking, heat up olive oil in a chef's pan and saute the garlic until golden
Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes become soft, season them with a bit of salt (not too much pecorino is a salty cheese)
Right before the pasta is al dente - about two minutes before suggested cooking time, drain the pasta, keep a cup and a half of the pasta cooking water.
Add the spaghetti and pasta water to the chef's pan stir the pasta, the pasta water and the tomatoes and oil together - the water will "lengthen" the sauce - cook speak for making the sauce a bit more saucier, thicker if you will.

Turn off the heat!  Leave the pan where it is.

Add torn basil leaves and mix again for just a minute so that the basil gets incorporated
Mix a generous handful of grated pecorino over the pan, mix the pasta again.
Drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil
Transfer to a serving bowl, top with more grated pecorino, and a few basil leaves and serve immediately.

Simple and so delicious.  Enjoy!

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