Thursday, August 04, 2011

Oh, August: Pasta with Corn, Zucchini and Tomates

When I decided to get married four months after announcing my engagement, I did it with some trepidation. It wasn't because I was nervous about the wedding planning or the small, but oh-so-important details. It wasn't because I was anxious about marrying my mate. It was because I was worried about August.

August: when the days get long and hot. August: the month when peaches plump and basil bursts; when the French go on long vacations and we Americans become frantic, trying to squeeze everything in before Labor Day.

But in August, in San Francisco, the days are long and cool -- and often grey. And for me, a newly minted married woman, sans major project, loafing around looking for a book proposal, a project, a job, August would be treacherous.

Oh, August. I wish I could say you surprised me. But you haven't. Admittedly, I'm a little fickle. There's been sunshine, I'm sure of it. But right now what I see outside my window is dismal and grey. And I've got projects -- the little book I'm editing is nearly finished!-- but I want more projects, bigger ones.

It might be the worst part of my personality, this tendency to never be satisfied. But it might also be the best. It's what keeps me pushing ahead, whether it be writing and networking, or granola baking, floor scouring, and thank-you note writing.

And so, these long slow days of summer demand deeper introspection. Perhaps I've been too quick to plow ahead (I've been accused of this); maybe I'm a bit dramatic?

For there are some August surprises: the CSA box bursting with peaches, tomatoes, and corn also arrived with an array of purple treats that remind me that autumn will come. There are sweet purple grapes and large pungent onions. When have I ever had the time to consider what to do with two pounds of purple onions?

But wait, there's more. Even though I've an abundance of time these days, perfect for elaborate meal planning and execution, there's a new cook in the kitchen. He used to appear sporadically, but this month he's been in the kitchen twice. I even caught him pawing through a Marcella Hazan cookbook after dinner.

The other night he took stock of the vegetable drawer. Next, he found a recipe -- Mark Bittman's Pasta with Corn, Zucchini, and Tomatoes -- and gently pushed me out of the kitchen while he got to work. The end result: barely cooked red and yellow vegetables tossed with tangled ropes of fresh pasta and sprinkled with tarragon.

He says he's cooking again tonight. Oh, August. How you surprise me.

Pasta with Corn, Zucchini and Tomatoes -- recipe by Mark Bittman
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup corn kernels ( cut from 2 or 3 ears)
1 cup diced zucchini or summer squash (from 2 or 3 small vegetables -- we used pattypan)
1 medium onion or 3 or 4 shallots, diced
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 sprigs tarragon or a tablespoon dry
4 plum or 2 large tomatoes, diced
1 pound cut pasta, like penne (imperative so that bits and juices can become lodged in the tubes!)
Set a large pot of water to boil and salt it. Put 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add corn. Cook, stirring occasionally, until corn begins to brown. Add zucchini and some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini begins to brown. 
Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add tarragon and cook for 30 seconds, then tomatoes. Put pasta in boiling water and cook until tender but not mushy, 10 to 15 minutes. 
While pasta cooks continue to cook sauce, reducing heat when tomatoes begin to break down. If sauce dries out (with plum tomatoes, this is likely), add some pasta cooking water, about 1/2 cup at a time. When pasta is done, drain it, toss with sauce and serve immediately.


Sunday Taylor said...

This post is wonderful. I know what you mean about August in San Francisco. We're having a heat wave right now in Los Angeles. But I am loving all the summer produce and warm weather pleasures. Your book is on my summertime list of things to do in August!

Megan Taylor said...

oh, Anne! Your musings on life, food, motivation, coziness - they're all such an inspiration to me. It's so lovely to hear how you push forward. Can't wait to see what comes next for you in the kitchen, xoxo.

Ursula said...

This post is delicious! I'm remembering those chilly San Francisco summer days (especially when New York is so hot and humid). We'll trade climates in autumn. :)

Megan Gordon said...

Love it--Sean in the kitchen! And as I know you know, September and October bring the real reason to wake up with a smile in San Francisco.

Sean Finney said...

I didn't know my forays into the kitchen were all over the Internet.

Anne, when you say "barely cooked vegetables" you don't mean they were raw do you? I sweated over that squash.

Anne Zimmerman said...

Sean -- of course the vegetables were cooked to perfection.