Summer Rustic Herb Linguini

It’s August, and that means the long hot days of humidity smelling like wet grass are followed by roaring thunderstorms and heavy rains all through the night. And if you garden, this is most certainly your garden’s favorite time of year! For me, this means harvesting the beautiful bounty of fresh herbs that have been growing wild and with abundance in my planters.

Many summer pasta recipes depend on sweet aromatic basil, but this Summer Rustic Herb Linguini is a simple dish that features an surprising twist by combining bright mint, woody thyme and bitter parsley all tangled with linguini and tossed in a briny sauce of capers, olives, freshly squeezed lemon juice and a fresh pop of garlic. It is a rich and flavorful bite that requires minimal effort, and best of all complements any seasonal vegetables and grilled proteins to help honor these summer months.

The key to using fresh herbs in a recipe is in how you harvest and store the plants. Fresh herbs are best harvested in the early morning before the heat of the day. They will stay fresh wrapped in a damp paper towel in the refrigerator for the day until ready to prepare and serve.

If you do not grow your own herbs, there are plenty of proven tips on keeping herbs fresher for longer from the grocery store. First, trim the stems and place the herbs in a glass of cold water, but be careful not to immerse the leaves. Basil is an herb that thrives uncovered at room temperature sitting on a sunny windowsill in a cup of water. All other tender leafy herbs like parsley, cilantro, dill, and tarragon should then be covered loosely with a plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator. For heartier leafy herbs like rosemary, mint, thyme, sage and chives, you can store these in the refrigerator in a cup of water and then cover loosely with a plastic bag, but the leaves may actually stay fresher if immersed in water. I recently stored fresh mint completely submerged in a covered Tupperware container of chilled water for two weeks and it stayed bright, fresh and crisp. Just make sure to change the water on herbs every few days, like you would for fresh flowers.

pasta close-up

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 lb linguini
  • 1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons drained nonpareil capers
  • ½ freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt and pepper

Prepare the herb mixture by placing the olives, capers, diced herbs, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil in a medium bowl and toss to combine. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes, while pasta cooks. Drain pasta then stir all together in large serving bowl to ensure flavors come together. Salt to taste, and enjoy!

glencoe beach

Summer Herb Garden Ratatouille

It’s almost the end of July, and that means the long hot days of humidity smelling like wet grass are followed by roaring thunderstorms and heavy rains all through the night. And if you garden, this is most certainly your garden’s favorite time of year!

This summer I set up two planters on our back patio and pretty much threw in whatever plants and seeds I could fit. Along with some festive patio lighting, a clean-up of our table and chairs, and a shrub trimming, the space is finally livable again. It also smells wonderful with a fresh lavender plant, a bountiful herb garden and two very healthy and fast-growing cherry tomato plants beside a lettuce bed and assortment of vegetables that are currently fighting for nutrients and light!

If, like me, your herb garden and zucchini plants are ready to burst forth, this herb garden ratatouille is the perfect summer dish to showcase your summer harvest. I’ve made a few variations of this sliced vegetable ratatouille over the years, but this version from Tasty has a rich sweet tomato sauce base to help soften the vegetable slices as they bake, and is topped with an incredibly robust herb sauce that really celebrated my home-grown herbs. It’s also a beautiful display and can easily be shared for a potluck. My adaptation from the original recipe was to remove the eggplant (not my husband’s favorite vegetable), double up on zucchini and add one sliced potato, but you can easily eliminate that for a simple low-carb summer dish.

Ratatouille Ingredients:

  • 3 large zucchini, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
  • 2 large yellow squash, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
  • 1 Idaho potato, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
  • 6 roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely diced

Herb Sauce:

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 8-10 fresh basil leaves, diced
  • 2 TB fresh parsley, diced
  • 2 tb fresh thyme, diced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large pan, add olive oil, garlic, onions and peppers and cook on medium heat until onions are soft and translucent, then stir in crushed tomatoes. Transfer this sauce base to bottom of a large casserole dish. Arrange sliced vegetables in alternating patterns on top, however you like! I prefer rows in a rectangular dish, but you can also arrange in a circular pattern in a round baking dish. Mix herb sauce and add to top of ratatouille. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes, then uncover and for additional 20 minutes. Serve while hot, but also tastes great cold the next day!

Final version bubbling up right out of the oven…