The honeysuckle is in bloom and last night I saw the first firefly of the season so summer must be here.
Early summer, when the days are long and the entire summer lies ahead of me, is my favorite part of summer. It's probably some biological effect due to the long days but I find myself suffused with feelings of well-being and happiness. Life seems carefree and unburdened.
Shortly after the 4th of July I'll begin to feel the waning of summer. I'll sigh and tell Mike how sad this makes me. As you can imagine, this soon becomes tedious for him. By the beginning of August I'll see signs of autumn, even on 100 degree days. On some of those 100 degree days, autumn starts to feel like a good idea.
But right now the weather is pleasant. The days are hot but the nights are still cool enough that the house doesn't hold the heat. Before the end of June the heat will be oppressive enough that we'll have the air conditioner on and the windows shut tight, but for the moment the windows are open and there's often a breeze. One of the many pleasures of summer is lying in bed reading late into the night while the sounds of the neighborhood drift in--voices from the streets below, train whistles as trains enter a tunnel that runs under the neighborhood in which I live, a siren in the distance.
Barely more than a month ago our farmer's market had little variety but suddenly it's feeling more summer-like; there seem to be an abundance of things -- lots of greens, asparagus, strawberries, big lush bunches of basil, the first zucchini of the season.
This recipe caught my eye because I am trying to use up one of those big lush bunches of basil. Also it uses orange bell peppers which I recently read are an excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which apparently are nutritionally important things that most people don't get enough of in their diet.
The recipe is adapted from Pasta Fresca by Viana La PLace and Evan Kleiman, a collection of pasta recipes which the cover blurb describes as "fresh, vivid, and uncomplicated," originally published in 1988, and then reissued in 2001. It's full of simple but satisfying and interesting pasta recipes, a great many of which have less than 10 ingredients including the pasta, olive oil, and salt.
This dish is a nice interplay of the salty sharpness of the cheese against the sweetness of the peppers.
Spaghetti with Orange Peppers and Gorgonzola
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (actually I probably used about three tablespoons)
1 onion, peeled, quartered and sliced into strips
4 orange bell peppers, seeded and deribbed, cut into thin strips
3 or 4 fresh basil leaves cut into julienne
1/2 pound dolce latte Gorgonzola
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound spaghetti (I use angel hair)
Freshly grated parmesan cheese.
1. Thinly slice the peppers and onions. Saute in olive oil until they are tender and just beginning to brown around the edges. Add salt, pepper, and basil. Toss and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt, then the pasta.
3. When the pasta is al dente, scoop out and set aside about one cup of the cooking water and then drain the pasta. Toss it in a large bowl with the gorgonzola. Use some of the reserved cooking water if it seems a little dry. I sometimes find gorgonzola overpowering so I'd suggest initially adding less than the 1/2 pound called for, and then adding the rest to taste.
4. Add the onion and pepper mixture. Toss more. Taste. Adjust seasonings and add more gorgonzola if you wish.
5. Garnish with addtional basil leaves and serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.