Pasta d'Estate

(Pasta with Summer Vegetables)

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4


1 onion
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup olive oil
2 bell peppers (1 yellow, 1 green)
3 small zucchini
2 cups fresh tomatoes, cubed (or a 15-oz. can of diced tomatoes)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Salt and red pepper to taste

1 pound package shell pasta
1/4 cup grated cheese

Bring a medium stockpot of water to a fast boil. Peel, wash and dice the onion, wash and coarsely chop the basil.
In a medium skillet, saute' the onion and basil in the olive oil for 5 minutes at medium heat, stirring frequently.

Wash and cut the peppers in half; remove the seeds and white membranes. Cut them into 1 1/2-inch squares. Add them to the skillet, cook at medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Wash the zucchini, remove both ends, cut them in 1/4-inch wheels, add them to the skillet and continue cooking for 5 more minutes, stirring frequently.

Wash and cube the tomatoes, add them to the skillet with the red pepper and salt to taste. Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it looks like it is drying, add water 1/4 cup at a time.

Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir immediately, cover the stockpot and bring it back to a fast boil. Then uncover it and cook according to the direction on the package or to the desired tenderness, stirring occasionally.

Drain the pasta, place it in a serving bowl, and pour the sauce over the top. Stir and serve hot with grated cheese.

For those who don't like the skins from the fresh tomatoes, chopping them smaller will make the skins less apparent in the sauce.

One very easy way of peeling the tomatoes is to freeze them in a plastic bag about 3 to 4 hours before use. Immerse them in warm water, peel , cube and add them to the sauce. Substituting the canned tomatoes is a quick and easy fix, but there is no substitute for the fresh taste.

My grandparents had a vegetable garden just at the other edge of the property opposite their house. Sometimes grandma asked that one of us go "all'orto" (to the vegetable garden) to get some fresh spice or something she needed for her cooking.

We always had so much fun picking the first cucumbers, or the sweet peas, or the fava beans. Most of the times we picked things too early; grandma got "mad" and ended up chasing after us with a switch. We ran faster than she did, so next came the threat "Wait till your father gets home. He will make meat balls out of you".

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