Lemony Summer Pasta Salad: HotM 27

While others around the country are just now beginning to see the bounty of summer’s first produce at their farmer’s markets – stone fruits, fava beans, baby lettuces, we’re on a little bit of a different schedule here. June in Hawaii means that mangoes, tomatoes, arugula, lychee and Kahuku sweet corn are back in force.

Yep, I said tomatoes. And I don’t mean the little cherry tomatoes that grow year-round here. I mean the big beauties that most of the rest of the US doesn’t see until late in the summer. And these aren’t Early Girls or Uglies either. They’re our own variety: Big Wave. But we also begin to get other heirloom varieties too, thanks to Jeanne Vana, our resident Island heirloom tomato grower. For a self-proclaimed tomato addict such as myself, this is heaven.

The theme for Heart of the Matter this month is the Best of June’s Produce, so I couldn’t resist a dish that had a few of the tomatoes I picked out at Jeanne’s farm out in the North Shore last weekend. And I had to add in a few of the other vegetables that are plentiful these days too: peppery arugula, crisp cucumbers, sweet sugar snap peas, and local asparagus (available year round here). Summer also means we’re back to hot days and muggy nights, which means that I don’t want to spend much time in the kitchen because anything simmering on the stove or roasting in the oven also means we’re roasting in our skin it’s so hot inside the house.

Here’s the dish I came up with – it’s a pasta salad that’s great for a light, summer evening meal or a hearty lunch – it's healthy, packed with veggies, lightly scented with lemon zest, and it would be perfectly complimented by a slice of grilled bread and a glass of refreshing Riesling on the side. Play around with it! Use your favorite early summer produce or what you have on hand. If you prefer a non-vegetarian salad, this would also be delicious with a can of good-quality tuna in olive oil and some capers added. We’ve also been making our own cheese, which I would add next time to replace the feta – stay tuned for that recipe sometime next month when I’m back to blogging regularly (teaching ends after today!!).

Lemony Summer Pasta Salad
, serves 6

6 oz. shaped pasta
1 bunch asparagus, the woody ends snapped off
2-3 large tomatoes, chopped or ~15 small cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 small cucumber, peeled
1 large handful of sugar-snap peas, trimmed and cut in half
2 scallions, thinly sliced
4 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
zest of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup feta cheese
2 tbsp. thinly sliced basil (chiffonade)
1 bunch of baby arugula

Bring a large pot of boiling, salted water to boil. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. When the water begins to boil, add the asparagus and cook for 2 minutes, then remove the asparagus using tongs and transfer it to the ice water bath. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook it until it is al dente, then drain. Rinse the pasta with cold water, drain and return to the pan.

While the pasta is cooking, remove the asparagus and put it on a towel to dry. When dry, you can chop it into 1 – 2 inch lengths. Pour the ice bath out and add the cut asparagus back to the bowl, along with the chopped tomatoes.

Add the cucumber, sugar snap peas, and scallions to the cooled pasta. Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon zest and salt and pepper in a small bowl until it emulsifies, then mix this with the pasta and vegetables. Add the feta cheese and basil. Add the asparagus and tomatoes and mix very gently with a large spoon or better yet, your hands.

Just before serving, mix in the arugula. If you plan to eat this as leftovers, only add the arugula to what you will be eating at one time – it tends to wilt too fast for my taste if it’s added early.

6 comments from you:

Nerissa said...

LOL. You're just like me. I just finished teaching and packing my classroom up for the summer. That salad looks SO good. Wish they'd get some real tomatoes in. They have brought in jewel-mix cherries by the load, so I'm not complaining too much but I'd like the chance to have some vine-ripened large boys. They still seem to think they can pass off pink fuzz-innards as the real thing. *grumble*

Debinhawaii said...

Looks gorgeous and delicious! One of these days I swear I am going to join in on a HotM event!

Ilva said...

Great entry, so full of flavours and vitamins!

Murasaki Shikibu said...

"we’re on a little bit of a different schedule here. June in Hawaii means that mangoes, tomatoes, arugula, lychee and Kahuku sweet corn are back in force."

I live in Andalucia and we're always ahead of them seasonally too. Right now tomatoes are SO in season and I'm going to enjoy it to the max. :D

Lovely entry and love the combination of ingredients!

The Food Hunter said...

this looks great.thanks for sharing.

Brae - Faucets said...

Looks wonderful. Great reading your post as well.Thanks.