Summer is coming to an end. We’re planning to go camping this weekend, and there is a 50% chance of rain. In New Mexico, that means it’s going to rain. The temperatures will be dropping almost into the 30s. We’re scrambling to find hats and gloves and warm pants to pack; our swimsuits will stay at home. Fall is definitely in the air.
Just don’t tell my basil plants.
The recent monsoons have caused my already enormous basil plants to have another growth spurt. They’re bigger than ever, and I can hardly keep up with them. I think in the coming weeks, I will need to devote an entire day just to making pesto. Perhaps there are Christmas gifts growing in the garden, just waiting to be canned.
In the meantime, I’ve discovered a lovely recipe for the late-summer harvest: pasta with roasted red-pepper pesto, plus grilled carrots and zucchini. The roasted red peppers add a nice sweetness to the garlicky pesto, and the veggies have a sweet, smoky flavor that complements the basil. If you haven’t eaten grilled carrots, you’re missing out, for sure.
Thanks to the efforts of my basil plants, I’m sure we’ll eat pesto all winter long, so there’s no need for us to lament the passing of summer. We can embrace the changing season, pull on our sweaters and winter hats, and wonder why we decided to sleep on the ground in a tent in the fall. And later this year, some freezing cold winter night, we’ll be happy for a taste of summer.
Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto and Grilled Vegetables
2 red bell peppers
4 garlic cloves
1 ½ cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
2 small zucchinis, sliced into thin rounds
2 carrots sliced into thin rounds
2 green onions chopped
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 lb penne pasta
Prepare a medium fire on the grill. Roast the peppers, turning occasionally until charred. Remove from grill and place peppers in a paper bag to steam. When the peppers have cooled enough to handle, cut a slit in each pepper and drain into the bowl of a food processor. Peel and seed the peppers, then coarsely chop them and place them in food processor with the garlic cloves and basil. Process until very finely chopped. Add the Parmesan cheese and process again to incorporate. With the machine running add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and process until you have a smooth paste. Set aside.
Toss the carrots, zucchini and onion with two tablespoons of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Using a grill rack, grill the vegetables over medium heat until grill marked and tender.
Cook the pasta until tender. Drain. Add the pesto to the pasta and mix well. Add the vegetables and mix again. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.