I do believe some sort of celebration is in order. For I have harvested the first item of food from this summer's vegetable garden!
Hm, you think to yourself. Is that a variety of green pumpkin? A decorative gourd? No, and no. Dear friends, that is some sort of funky round light green zucchini. If I had my wits about me, I would be able to tell you exactly what it is. Because everything started out in such a promising fashion. All my seedlings, thriving happily under their grow lights, were labeled neatly in the fashion of Martha Stewart.
But when it was time to transplant the tender seedlings to larger peat pots -- and start bringing them outside during the daytime to soak up the spring sun -- all hell broke loose. I lost track of what was what. I had 10 plastic trays of multiple varieties of tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkins and cucumbers all mingling with one another like sophomores at Sadie Hawkins. My neat identifiers -- wooded craft sticks -- began to fade and split. My grand plans for incredible garden organization were gone, vanished, like the ephemeral perfect spring day.
And I ended up with funky round light green zucchini whose proper name totally eludes me.
But I posit: Who the heck cares? It is funky, and round, and light green. Cut into it and make some dinner, already.
I mixed julienned slices of it with some rigatoni, goat cheese, oregano and a tad bit of pesto the other night and was rewarded with a flavorful dish that simply sang of the summer garden. It was light and fresh and completely satisfying. Satisfying because it tasted good, satisfying because I had grown one of its component ingredients myself from a teeny tiny seed. Satisfying because it was self-reliant and creative.
But most of all: satisfying because I know there are more funky round light green zucchini waiting for me out there, growing in the seasonal sun of my back yard.
RIGATONI WITH ZUCCHINI AND GOAT CHEESE
You can omit the pesto from this recipe if you don't have any on hand, but it does add a nice creaminess to the finished dish.
3 T. olive oil
1/2 small (or 1/4 medium) red onion, finely chopped
1/2 t. sea salt
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 zucchini, julienned (or half a funky round light green one, if you can get it)
1/2 t. freshly-ground black pepper
2 T. fresh oregano, chopped, divided
1 lb. rigatoni
2 oz. goat cheese
3 T. pesto
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
While the water is coming to a boil, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the onion and salt and cook until the onion is translucent and begins to brown, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring often.
Add the zucchini, black pepper and 1 T. of the oregano and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring often, until the zucchini softens, about 10 minutes.
When the water is boiling, add the rigatoni and cook according to the package directions until the pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta through a colander set over a liquid measuring cup or bowl, reserving some of the cooking liquid.
Add the drained pasta and about 1/4 c. of the cooking liquid to the zucchini mixture and stir to combine. Cook for about 2 minutes, then transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Add the goat cheese and pesto and stir to combine, adding a little more of the reserved pasta water to make a looser sauce, if necessary (I usually end up adding about another 1/4 c. of the water). Garnish with the remaining 1 T.of oregano and serve.