This recipe began on an oppressively humid day as a way to stretch one zucchini, eight green beans and a small cucumber (the first pickings from my garden) into a meal for two adults and six children. As a summery side dish, it's a refreshing change from mayonnaise-based pasta or potato salads. For a more substantial dish, toss in some peeled, cooked shrimp, leftover roast chicken or chunks of grilled Italian sausage and serve with a hunk of bread pulled from a crusty loaf. —betteirene
cloves garlic, pressed
Salt and pepper
medium heirloom tomatoes, preferably a mix of red, yellow and purple varieties such as Dixie Golden, Brandywine or Cherokee, peeled if desired, cored and roughly chopped
14-15 oz. can cannellini or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
medium zucchini or cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced
rib celery, diced
small pasta such as ditalini, mini penne, mini shells or mini bow ties
fresh yellow or green beans, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
carrot, peeled and diced
small bell or hot pepper, any variety, seeded and diced (optional)
finely chopped fresh parsley
finely chopped fresh basil, plus whole leaves for garnish
finely chopped fresh oregano
shaved or coarsely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, Asiago, Grana, Pecorino or Romano cheese
In a large bowl, stir together the olive oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 5 grinds black pepper. Add the tomatoes, beans, zucchini and celery and combine gently.
Trim the ends of the green onions and slice thinly on the diagonal. Add the white part to the tomato mixture and reserve the green slices for garnish.
Bring two quarts of water and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil. Add pasta and return to a boil. Three minutes later or when pasta is halfway cooked, stir in the green beans and carrots; continue cooking until pasta is al dente. Drain and add while still hot to the tomato mixture. Stir in the bell or hot pepper, if using.
Zest the lemon over the bowl, then squeeze the juice over the vegetables. Add the parsley, basil and oregano and stir gently. Taste; adjust the salt and pepper to your liking. Sprinkle with the reserved green onions, whole basil leaves and cheese. Serve while warm.