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First Summertime Dinner


(Another wonderful guest post from my fantastic daughter, Laura!)

There are a few ways I know it finally is summer: Wearing flipflops outdoors without worrying about being cold; the end of the schoolyear; and cooking with tomatoes.

Last night we had one of our favorite couple friends over for dinner. We typically go out to eat with these friends, but because Brian and I have two restaurant dinners planned for the weekend, I suggested I cook. Also, I’m on summer vacation so I have a lot of time on my hands, which makes preparing a full dinner much more appealing.

Lisa and Lynn, our guests, are vegetarians which is great, especially this time of year, but Brian and I are solidly carnivores so contemplating a main dish that would please and satisfy us all was a bit of a head scratcher. At first, I was dead set against cooking pasta because I feel like vegetarians must constantly be relegated to eating pasta when they go out to eat, whether at  restaurants or private homes.

I looked through a lot of cookbooks and wrote down ideas (stuffed peppers with couscous? a big entree salad? sesame noodles? Shoot, that’s pasta…). I was thumbing through The Garden Entertaining Cookbook by none other than Mary Goodbody (and Barabara Scott-Goodman) and my eye kept being drawn back to the recipe for fettucini with cherry tomatoes and basil. I decided to go with it, succumb to the pasta draw, mainly because I’d be able to make a light, summery cherry tomato sauce.

I couldn’t help but be excited about the prospect of creating a dish with red and yellow cherry tomatoes, the kind that pop in your mouth when you eat them raw, and sweeten up the sauce when cooked and thrown together with pasta. Seeing them washed and halved made me feel supremely summery and I had to photograph them, which is what led to this blog post.

When you decide to open up your copy of The Garden Entertaining Cookbook and try this delicious recipe, a few things to keep in mind: First of all, use fresh pasta but remember to cook it for 1 to 2 minutes only. I overcooked the pasta (or, ah hem, my husband did…but what’s the difference, what’s his is mine and all that) so it was sticky and a little clumpy. We used fresh angel hair, my favorite thickness, and because the sauce is so light it is important to keep it non-sticky and slippery to pick up all the flavor from the sauce.

I also added two things to this wonderful recipe: the tops of a bunch of broccolini and some shallots. The sauce cooks quickly, about 5 to 8 minutes, so timing the pasta is essential. I prepared a simple side salad with an amazingly sweet yellow bell pepper and a garlic-mustard vinaigrette.

Who doesn’t love brownies? These are “customized” with chocolate-covered pretzels scattered on top.

Finally, to make everyone happy and ensure all participants got enough to eat, I made dessert. As much as I love my mom, her recipes, her cooking, and her expertise, I am the first to say that the brownie recipe on the inside of the Baker’s Chocolate box is the all-time best brownie recipe out there. People who use mixes to make brownies frustrate me, not only because I detest baking mixes (thanks for that legacy, Mom!), but because Baker’s one bowl brownies are JUST as easy as any mix from the store! There are just as few steps and 10x the taste. I added some crushed, chocolate-covered pretzels to the top in lieu of nuts; the brownies were a hit. Served alongside some raspberry sorbet, this meal was complete. Summer has officially begun.

Here is my slightly altered version of this lovely recipe:

Fettucine with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

4 servings

3 pints red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 large shallot, finely chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 bunch broccolini, stemmed and just the “tree tops” reserved (I blanched them for 1 to 2 minutes to give them a head start, since tomatoes cook faster.)

¼ cup white wine

¼ cup chicken broth

Dried red pepper flakes

Salt & pepper, to taste

2 packages fresh angel hair pasta

Handful + fresh basil leaves

Shaved parmesan cheese

1. Wash and prep the veggies

2. When you’re ready to eat, saute the garlic and shallots in olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Stir and cook about 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes before the garlic burns. Stir gently and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Add the broccolini, wine, and chicken broth. Flavor with red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Lower the heat and let everything cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Add the pasta to a large pot of boiling water. Leave in the boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes only!

6. Serve immediately and garnish with basil and cheese.

copyright © Laura Goodbody

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 06/30/2012 3:09 pm

    That’s a great cookbook with perfect summertime recipes! I may need to start cooking again!

  2. Marnie permalink
    07/01/2012 1:33 am

    Sounds great, Laura. Your grandmother used to make brownies from almost the exact same recipe and they were my favorite too.

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