I don’t have a photo of last night’s yummy dinner because well, I ate it instead of photographing it, but it was one of those delicious surprises that happen sometimes when you’re just making something out of what you have. I had a bunch of tomatoes that were about to go bad on me — not enough for a real pot of sauce, three or four big-ish red ones, a few Jaunne Flammes and a handful of cherries. I dithered for a while because I didn’t really feel like cooking, I felt more like heating something up but I didn’t want to eat any of the stuff in the fridge. So back to the tomatoes.
I put on a pot, sliced one of my little onions from the garden (they’re just a little bigger than a golf ball, most of them) and one of the three cayenne peppers that I’ve gotten so far this year and started sauteeing them. I threw in a clove of garlic, cored and chopped the tomatoes and put them in at a pretty brisk simmer. The tomatoes gave off a fair amount of juice and although it looked a little soupy, it smelled good. I put on some water for penne and while the penne was starting to cook I went out to look under the plastic to see if there’s any basil. The basil in the regular garden is toast — if we didn’t have a hard frost we certainly had a soft frost sometime this week. But under the plastic was the nicest looking basil I’ve had all summer — I picked a handful and as I came back through the garden I remembered the handful of roma beans I picked earlier in the week. (The season got such a late start that I’m afraid I’m not going to have beans to freeze like last year.)
I love roma beans and they’re one of those things I grow because you can’t really buy them around here. The beans are what took this simple little dinner up a notch from good, to really good. I topped the beans, cut them into inch long pieces and threw them in with the penne, which had another 7 minutes to go. When the timer went off, I drained the penne/beans, added them to the sauce and let it all simmer for a minute or two so the flavors would blend. A little parmesan and this was a great dinner. The beans were perfect — cooked all the way through but with a little tooth to them still, and roma beans and tomato are a great combo.
This is what I really love about cooking from the garden, the sort of dithery, hmm, what should I try next aspect of it. I’ve learned to cook things I didn’t have any experience with before this garden: roma beans, chard, kale, strange Italian greens I buy from Seeds of Italy because they look interesting.