Monthly Archives: July 2009

Linguine Estive

Like every other gardener, we have zucchini (or courgettes), and lots of them. While I no longer turn my nose up at any food, zucchini is on the “tolerate” list, and I don’t usually look for ways to use it. I was pleasantly surprised a couple weeks ago to find that I really liked zucchini in a ratatouille at a wedding at our church. It seemed like a simple recipe, and while you could still taste the “squashiness”, the entire dish was wonderful. I think that experience put me in a place to willfully use the zucchini we have sitting on the counter. This one came from Pizzeria: The Best of Casual Pizza Oven Cooking by Evan Kleiman, and it turned out well, even though I did not have the courgette blossoms.

Summer Linguine

  • 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus oil as needed
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 russet or golden-fleshed potatoes, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 1 zucchini, ends trimmed, cut in half lengthwise and the cut crosswise into half-moons
  • 1/2 lb. green beans, ends trimmed and strings removed
  • 1/4 lb. zucchini flowers, stamens removed (optional)
  • 1/4 c. coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 lb. dried Italian linguine
  • 2 tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a frying pan over medium-low heat, warm the 1/4 cum olive oil.  Add the shallot and garlic and saute for a few seconds, stirring frequently, just until the flavors are released.  Add the potatoes and saute, gently tossing once or twice, until just tender, about 7 minutes.  Add zucchini, greenbeans, and zucchini flowers (if using), and basil.  Continue sauteing, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes longer.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

While vegetables are cooking, feel a deep pot three-fourths full with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and stir a few times to prevent it from sticking together or to the pan.  Cook until al dente, 7-8 minutes or according to the package directions.  Scoop out and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water.  Drain the linguine thouroughly in a colander.

Immediately place the sauteed vegetables with all their juices and the reserved cooking water in a large shallow pasta bowl.  Add the linguine and butter, toss to mix well and serve immediately.  Pass Parmesan cheese at the table.

Serves 4-6

Weeding

I really like pulling weeds; especially in the herb bed where I can smell the cilantro when I brush it with my elbow, and the blooming parsley and thyme that I push out of the way. Squatting or kneeling on the dirt or grass, head down, looking for unwanted sprouts, grasping them as close to the root as I can and tossing them aside, I let my senses follow the pattern while my mind, freed of attentive work, processes the queue of waiting thoughts. While my hands and eyes are focused on finding and plucking, my mind has space to reorganize impressions and feelings that have been set aside. It is usually mildly cathartic, as I tug at a difficult weed, or pull only the top off a large one, attaching small physical acts to the frustrations and failures unprocessed inside.

It is easy to see my garden as an allegory for my soul. It is difficult but necessary work to weed out those unwanted “bad” plants. Even the “good” plants that are in the wrong place must come out. If I want my garden to be fruitful, the soil must be cultivated, the seeds must be planted, the weeds removed, the plants tended. None of those things are especially easy, and all require regular attentive action. But in the end, I cannot do anything to make the plants. The seed is a grace, a mercy from God: it is life, waiting for my responsiveness.

In both my garden and my soul, the weeds are never completely removed. I try to catch them before they choke the seedlings, crowd out the veggies, or go to seed. Sometimes I have to remind myself that a completely weed-free garden is not possible, but a healthy garden is. Weeding is necessary, but only part of the cultivation process that allows the plants to thrive and bear fruit.