The New Moon is here again as well as warmer days. Summer cooking is best when you put together meals that can be served indoors or outdoors. Welcome pasta. The world of pasta is a wide one with so many types of dishes. Pesto pasta — cold or hot — is one of my favorites. Pesto is an Italian sauce complete with garlic, basil, olive oil, basil, and pine nuts — a European delight.
This week I’ve been busy planning a trip (it seems Canada is on the list). I called the Lake Tahoe office about receiving my passport. I was told by a woman who answered the phone that I may have a few more weeks to wait. I asked, “If I go to Canada, not Europe as planned, do I need a passport?” She answered, “To get back into the states, yes.” And that statement took me back in time to my freewheeling 20s when I was in stuck in Ontario.
The authorities detained both me and my dog, a Lhasa Apso, a small long-haired dog that was my best friend and fearless protector. I didn’t have any I.D. , nor did my pooch have tags. We were held in a small room. They grilled me but I had nothing to hide. I was just a hippie girl, sitting cross-legged on the floor and munching on trail mix. They gave us water. After hours passed, we were free to go. In Michigan, a couple offered us a place to sleep for the night. I recall the middle-aged woman with a European accent made a pesto pasta dish served with French bread and real butter. I was in vegetarian heaven wolfing down a home-cooked meal.
So, as I anticipate a trip to Quebec, a French-speaking province sprinkled with Italian people, turning to pasta and using a fragrant pesto sauce for old time’s sake seemed like the right thing to do this week. I enjoyed it for dinner and served it hot with French bread strips; I also ate it cold the next day for lunch. Like pizza, this dish is good both ways.
Summertime Pesto Pasta
½ cup all- natural pesto sauce (store bought)
2 ½ cups whole grain rotini pasta, cooked
½ cup black olives, sliced
½ cup fresh grape tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
Black pepper to taste
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
¼ cup pine nuts
Basil, fresh (garnish)
In a bowl mix pesto and hot pasta until blended. Add olives, tomatoes, pepper, and cheese. Chill in fridge for an hour or two. Serve hot (heat in the microwave) or cold. Sprinkle with extra cheese and pine nuts. Serves 4-6.
½ fresh baguette
2 tablespoons European style butter
Fresh garlic, grated
Slice baget in half and slice again into strips. Put on a foil lined pan. Spread with butter and top with garlic. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes till crispy and light golden brown. Serve warm. Serves 4.
Black olives and tomatoes (sun dried boast a distinct flavor) give this dish a nice flavor. The parmesan cheese adds an earthy texture and the crunch of pine nuts is perfect. Making your own pesto sauce is easy, too, but during warmer days I’d rather be walking my dogs or swimming. Taking a semi-homemade short cut for pesto pasta works and leaves you with more time to play. It’s ideal for a side dish salad at an outdoor picnic or dinner wherever you are.
Motto: Cooking from scratch is fulfilling but making do with some ready-made ingredients to make your work in the kitchen easier feels good, too.
Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. Her website is www.calorey.com