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

Child Safari and Bruschetta Pasta

bruschetta pastaBrunch for four turned into a child safari this past weekend as we hosted our first “adult” brunch in over a month – meaning, we made something with garlic and put out cloth napkins. As per our usual start to Sunday mornings, we began with a pot of strong coffee and Deadmau5. After herding our two boys to the table, we actually managed to eat food on plates, remain in our chairs and share complete stories for about seven blissful minutes. And then abruptly, there was more food was on the floor than on anybody’s plates as Asher announced he was DONE and Everett stubbornly stood up in his high chair after unbuckling his safety belt and my husband and I scrambled around alternatively picking up each child, wiping oily fingers, and placing them at enticing toy stations in hopes that they would entertain themselves for just a minute without choking on a Lego or making stabbing motions with their plastic Chefs knives from the toy kitchen. How dare we adults enjoy ourselves and sit on our butts when there is so much wreckage to be done?

And so, with an apologetic smile and a good-natured laugh, we respectfully invited our brunch guests to join us upstairs to play in Asher’s room. And thus began the two-hour process of slowly upturning and investigating every room of the house which included; playing in Asher’s circus tent while Everett took a nose dive into the empty bath down the hall, settling in small uncomfortable nooks in the hallway as the kids practiced walking backwards, watching in horror as Asher threw all our dirty laundry out of the hamper, playing catch with a bouncy ball in the master bedroom, changing several diapers in the middle of the floor, and nestling in the den to watch three episodes of “Batman”. And throughout the madness of it all, our very dear and very patient friends Adam and Alexia never politely excused themselves with an undertone of “… NEVER AGAIN…”

And so today I am grateful. Grateful for friends. Grateful for flexibility. Grateful for my husband who is willing to listen to our toddler scream all day long that he ONLY wants mommy, and grateful for pie from Hoosier Mama Pie Company which makes it all worth while. So come join us for our next Child Safari brunch, or host your own with today’s simple recipe for Bruschetta Pasta!

BRUSCHETTA PASTA
1 pound of linguine pasta (my photo depicts angel hair)
1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes soaked in water for 15 minutes
4 large Roma tomatoes
1 bunch of fresh basil
1 cup medium green olives, pitted
3 garlic cloves
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon

In a food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse until blended but still chunky. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook 8 minutes. Drain well then combine with tomato mixture and toss until the pasts is coated. tomatoes

Mexican Lentil Salad

mexican lentil salad Today’s recipe I took straight from one of my favorite blogs – Kalyn’s Kitchen. The only difference is that I recommend making the lentil salad topping in one large batch so you can easily take it to work for the week and assemble it with some refreshing cold, crispy Romaine lettuce. It’s rich chili spices mixed with the sourness of the lime juice makes it perfect for summer!

MEXICAN LENTIL SALAD
1 1/2 cups brown lentils, cooked in 6 cups salted water
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 can (6 oz. drained weight) black olives, cut in half
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1-2 avocados, diced
1 cup pickled banana peppers or pepperoncinis
Juice from 2 fresh-squeezed limes
6 cups chopped Romaine lettuce, washed and dried
2 T olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 package of taco seasoning
1/2 cup vegetable broth

Put lentils, 6 cups water, and a little salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. When the water boils, reduce to a low simmer and cook until the lentils are tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes. Drain lentils well. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the chopped red onion and saute for a few minutes, until the onion starts to soften. Then add the taco seasoning and saute about 2 minutes more. Add the lentils and vegetable stock and simmer until the liquid has all evaporated. Turn off the heat and let the lentils cool. When cooled, add sliced olives, tomatoes, green onions, avocado and toss with extra lime juice. Served fresh over chopped lettuce, or bring lettuce to work separately and enjoy this tasty dish all week long!