Sunday, September 4, 2011

Labor Day 2011, or, Weekend Interruptus, part I

Oh, the best laid plans are often interrupted by a hurricane.  Not to mention people's homes and lives - so, I almost feel silly talking about my weekend away that was cancelled because I couldn't get to my destination because so many of  the roads that led there were wiped away due to massive flooding following Irene's destructive path.  
Beautiful NYC weather and green market bins overflowing with hastily harvested- so many of the farmers who supply the city's markets are located in the swath of Irene's harmful route - made staying put a no brainer.

Even before Irene entered City limits I harvested my own crop of basil and made copious amounts of pesto.  Some of it stayed in my refrigerator and was consumed just about everyday either neat on spaghetti,  tossed with new potatoes and green and yellow beans, as a topping for fresh tomato and feta cheese pizza - or as a newly created pasta sauce combined with fresh borlotti beans, zucchini and tiny, golden tomatoes.   The remaining pesto is safely stored in half pint containers, in my freezer, to be pulled out and thawed in the wintertime when I need a reminder of warm weather.


Serves 3 - 4

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium zucchini cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small hot pepper minced
1 cup fresh borlotti beans (about 1 pound in their shells)
1 cup tiny cherry tomatoes (or larger ones cut in half)
1/2 teaspoon  salt
3/4 cup water - or more as needed
2 cups pasta such as shells, penne or fusilli - about  1/2 pound
2 tablespoons pesto (see recipe below)
Parmesan cheese for serving

1.   Add the garlic and olive oil to a large saucepan and saute until garlic is pale gold.   Add the zucchini, hot pepper, borlotti, cherry tomatoes, salt and 1/4 cup water.    Stir the ingredients to thoroughly combine.   Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the beans are tender - about an hour.  You will need to add more water every 15 or 20 minutes.  Do it in 1/4 cup increments.  I used 3/4 cup water - you may need more - or less, depending on what you consider a tender bean.   The mixture should be ever so slightly soupy - not dry - at the end.
2.   About 15 minutes before the sauce is cooked bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
3.   Use a wire mesh strainer to remove the pasta from the pot and add it to the saucepan.  Add the pesto and stir the thoroughly coat the pasta.  Serve immediately with grated Parmesan cheese.

I didn't include a photo of the finished pasta - because while it's incredibly delicious - and nutritious - it's not very photogenic.

2 cups fresh basil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup walnuts
2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1.   Put the basil, pine nuts, walnut pieces, garlic, Parmesan, and salt into a food processor and puree.   With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil (you may not need the full amount) and process until the mixture resembles mayonnaise.  the pesto can made ahead and refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for 6 - 8 months; be sure to seal the top of the pesto with a thin film of olive oil before covering.

So, instead of going upstate - ostensibly to take care of Frankie while Rita and David went to an event in another state - they took a long route (to avoid washed out roads) and brought Frankie to NYC to stay with me and Allegra before they continued on their journey.   Rita brought me a selection of things from her garden.  Wow - it's like she replaced the ingredients I just cooked into a pasta sauce.  Stay tuned for my next meal made with borlotti beans, summer squash, and tomatoes.

As soon as Frankie and Allegra were comfortably resting I took off for my favorite day vacation - a trip out to Rockaway Beach - for the beach and sun - for sure - but really for that fried fish sandwich at Motorboat and the Big Banana.  This vendor of all things divine including - yes, a frozen banana covered in chocolate, nuts and chopped pretzels - is located at beach 96th street which is the 98th street/Playland stop on the Rockaway shuttle.  I've have this fried fish sandwich all summer - it never, ever disappointed.  The one that I ate the other day (photo) may have been the best ever.   This sandwich is undeniably the BEST SANDWICH in all of New York City.  The concession stands will be open for about another month.  Check out their hours at Rockaway Beach Club.   As for the beach - it was a very high tide and there was little to no beach - I didn't mind I just down on a bench on the boardwalk, enjoyed the sun and salty breezes.

SUSANSIMONSAYS: Part II of the weekend's adventure will be posted shortly after Labor Day so I can include the festivities of the day.


  1. Everything looks great....especially those lovely beans!
    So funny, I just put together a post with pesto, tomatoes and squash yesterday!
    Here's to many great end of summer meals!

  2. thanks - today I'm going to make minestrone with pesto - same ingredients - they're around in abundance right now. What a nice way to let summer stretch........