Strolling through my garden in yesterday’s summer heat, the scent of my herbs and vegetables wafted upward and enticed me to think about what to pick for dinner. The acidic, tart smell of the tomatoes beckoned toward a cool crisp salad. The permeating smell of the spring onions pled for a stir fry. But it was the pungent, heady aroma of the sweet basil that won my heart. Still, the tomatoes and onions deserved their chance for a place at the table. I decided not to choose and picked some of all three.
Back in the kitchen I pondered what to make. My grandmother from Abruzzi used basil in lots of her dishes, most often in slowly simmered sauces enlivened with hot pepper flakes. Although tantalizing, that didn't feel like the dish for this summer day. But the thought of pasta was appealing, and folks say that spicy hot foods help cool you down on a hot day. Fresh tomatoes instead of a simmer would also help beat the heat.
So here is the light summer pasta that resulted from the marriage of these flavors. Chill a bottle of crisp white wine like a Vernaccia. Set the table outside in the shade of a tree and enjoy.
Campanelli with Tomatoes, Spring Onions and Basil
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup roughly chopped spring onions, including some green
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- 1 fennel bulb, cored, cut into slices
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped basil leaves, plus reserve a handful for garnish
- 2 tsp hot pepper flakes (or to taste)
- 6 oz goat cheese
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 box campanelle (in Italian “little bells”) pasta or other shape pasta
In sauce pan, heat olive oil and sauté spring onions until softened. Add fennel and sauté briefly. Add hot pepper flakes.
Add liquids and cook for 5 minutes. Take 1 oz of the goat cheese, mash with a fork till softened. Stir into the dish and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add tomatoes and basil and cook till tomatoes are softened. At the end, salt and pepper to taste. Add small chunks of goat cheese being careful not to incorporate.
Meanwhile boil 4 quarts of water salted to taste. Add pasta and cook till al dente.
Add pasta to the mixture in the pan and combine. Transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle with parmesan and arrange basil leaves as garnish.