When I am struck with the burning desire to talk about the weather, I can’t help but wonder if it’s a sign of aging. Isn’t that what our grandparents do? Aren’t they the ones who buy those fancy thermometers for their homes so they know the precise temperature inside as well as outside? Or, am I only a few short years from making the same quirky investment?
Well, bear with me for a moment because I simply cannot resist the temptation. The sun is finally out in Seattle and that’s a pretty big deal around here. It’s been a long winter. And, when I refer to winter, I’m talking about a 6 month season that was entirely gloomy and rainy. There was no apparent distinction for springtime. It was the type of year during which I frequently wondered why I ever chose to move away from California.
Knock on wood, if you would. I think it’s all behind us now. The sun is high in the sky and the population around town is nearly double. And, those aren’t tourists. Those are the Seattle residents who were were living like hermits all these months. They are the people you now see strutting around the public lakes and parks with their pasty legs and goofy sandals (mandals). I am proud to be one of them. Indeed, I’m enjoying every minute as I bask in the sunshine with my big belly (under a giant umbrella and completely bathed in sunscreen).
I will tell you honestly, however, I wasn’t always a lover of the sun. In fact, I hated the sun as a child.
I assure you, I do not use this term lightly. I mean it. We grew up in the Sunset district of San Francisco where it was never hot due to the ocean air and routine blanket of fog, which not only numbed our senses, but any warm weather systems as well.
As such, I had little tolerance for any significant changes in the weather, especially increases in the temperature. That’s why our summers in Los Angeles with Nana were a bit torturous. The Southern Californian heat was cruel bringing only sticky thighs and more than a smattering of freckles to my pale white skin.
This is not to suggest any ill feelings toward Nana. I loved my grandmother very much. She was an absolute doll with a lovely ranch style home, which abutted a gorgeous and fragrant grove of Eucalyptus trees.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t appreciate any of it. Not even for one minute. I was too hot.
Nana had a fan in every room, which only seemed to recycle the hot air throughout the house. I would lay on my back on the coolest part of the floor, sticking to the floorboards underneath and barely moving like some sort of wounded animal. When it got to be just too much, I would create some sort of water type splashy invention with one of my sisters. Usually this involved a ton of wasted water from the garden house and some type of leftover building material we found in Nana’s shed. One time, in particular, we placed plastic sheeting down on a steep cement ramp and ran the hose over the sheeting to create a sort of poor man’s version of the slip n’ slide. Needless to say, it didn’t work out well. In fact, it’s hard to believe I’m in one piece today after the number of times I hurled my sunburned little body down the steep incline. There was a lot of bruising and scraping and very little slipping and sliding.
The one good thing about summertime in Los Angeles, however, was mealtime. By dusk, the air was cooler and a nice breeze was blowing. We ate out simple meals out on the patio surrounded by the smell of the Eucalyptus trees. Pasta. Salads. Homemade pies with ice cream. That was the good life.
K and I try to carry on this tradition in our more temperate Seattle home today. We eat every meal possible on the patio enjoying the sunshine for its brief and therapeutic appearance. Last night, we ate the pasta meal that I share with you today. It’s a great dish that really highlights seasonal eating. It’s bursting with fresh basil and zucchini from the garden. And, the lemon adds just enough zing to really compliment the seasonal vegetables.
I think you’ll enjoy it a lot. I hope you can slow down, enjoy the sunshine, and bask in simple food out on your patio. Life (and summer) are too short not to enjoy these pleasures.
Zucchini & Fresh Basil Pasta
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 cups packed fresh organic basil leaves, shredded
1 pound farfalle, bowtie pasta
1 and 1/2 tblsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely grated fresh parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
2 tblsp. fresh lemon juice
Quarter the zucchini lengthwise and chop into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Toss on a plate with the sea salt and let sit for 10-15 minutes until the zucchini sweat. Pat zucchini dry.
Bring a 6-quart pasta pot three fourths full with salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente and ladle out and reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Drain pasta in colander.
Heat the olive oil in a large wok type pan over moderately high heat until hot. Sauté zucchini, stirring occasionally, until golden but still a bit crisp, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in basil. Stir in pasta and 1/2 cup reserved pasta water and gently toss. Stir in cheese, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve pasta with additional cheese.