My kitchen counter gets real crowded this time of year. Market bounty spills and spreads out across the kitchen, claiming every available square inch of counter space until I get a chance to rejigger things and give every fruit, flower, herb, and vegetable its rightful place. I take my time putting things away, eating chunks of bread and handfuls of blackberries as I find a vase for the flowers, a bowl for the stone fruit, a glass for the basil, a fruit-fly-free home for the tomatoes. I am so happy doing this activity. I play music loudly and open windows and sing along mostly not knowing the words. Hameed doesn't seem to notice or care because he's busy eating the strawberry-rhubarb galette I bring back for him from the market.
It's been pretty hard for me to find time to cook recently. I still make a lunch for work everyday, but dinners have been ramen (we're addicted) and pizza and BBQ on repeat. When I have the time to cook, it's usually a simple bowl of lentils or beans.
Summer to the rescue. Summer always opens the door to amazing meals with minimal effort. The market explodes with good produce (tomatoes! corn! peaches! basil!) and meals just come together, no recipe needed.
This summer pasta was just one of those meals. Loads of summer squash with chickpeas, orzo, lots of fresh garlic, and a garlicky basil oil to top everything off. Happy summer!
- 1 lb garbanzo beans, cooked (cooking broth reserved)
- 1 1/2 cups small pasta such as orzo, cooked (pasta water reserved)
- 1 28 oz. can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 4-6 summer squash, diced
- 2 green chiles (I used jalapeño and serrano)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp chile pepper
- 1 tsp oregano
- salt and pepper
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 cup basil leaves
- olive oil
In a dutch oven or other large pot, sauté onions, bell peppers, squash, chiles, and spices in olive oil for a few minutes until soft. Add four cloves of garlic, minced, and sauté a couple minutes more. Add tomatoes (I left out the tomato juice to keep it from getting too tomato saucy), beans, and pasta, and simmer with the top on for about 20 minutes. Add as much of the bean broth and pasta water as needed to keep things good and moist.
To make the basil oil, smash a garlic clove with a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle. Add basil leaves and pound away until a paste forms. Slowly incorporate olive oil with the basil garlic mixture to form a sauce. Spoon basil oil over bowls of pasta and serve.