Wednesday, September 01, 2004


Is this recipe from Pasta e Verdura? Can’t remember. Don’t think so, though. What it is is a pretty good excuse to eat a whole mess of vegetables, use up the mozzarella from last week’s Spaghetti No Knife (mmm, melty mozzarella), and not really have to use the stove a whole lot on a very hot Pasadena day. The first time I tried this recipe I was suspicious—cucumber on pasta? With raw carrot and zucchini? But it’s good, and it’s become an old standby. Easy, colorful, unique. Nice to take on a picnic, I imagine, because it doesn’t have to be eaten piping hot. Plus it makes a lot of food.

1 pound ripe tomatoes, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeds and membranes removed, diced
2 small zucchini, trimmed and diced
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, finely diced (I usually use half or even a quarter of this—a little raw onion goes a long, long way, in my opinion)
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped
dried oregano to taste
1 pound penne or other tube-shaped pasta
½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
4-6 tablespoons olive oil
¾ pound fresh mozzarella, diced

1. Put a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil and then set to work cutting up all those vegetables (the only real labor involved in this recipe). Put them all in a large bowl, then add the basil (I have no idea how much “one bunch” is supposed to be--I hate vague directions like this, but at least basil is easy to eyeball; put in however much looks good to you) and the oregano (again, however much looks good to you—I used somewhere between ½ teaspoon and ¾ teaspoon, I believe), along with some salt (¼ to ½ teaspoon, I think). Then the red pepper flakes, olive oil, and mozzarella. Mix everything up well.

2. Meanwhile, when the water boils, cooked the pasta. When it's al dente, drain it. Toss it together with the sauce, and voila! Simplicity itself.

Serves: 6-8
Time: 30 minutes

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