Once again, our basil crop has gotten out of hand. Today, Brian had to pull out two entire plants because they'd grown so tall that they were shading the rest of the garden bed. He also picked, at the same time, two Early Girl tomatoes (the first of the season, since all our Sun Gold plants this year met with an early demise) and two large cucumbers. (That makes twenty-four cucumbers so far, and the plants have only been producing for about a month. Our fridge is already stuffed with pickles, and we've made every cucumber-based dish we know of and gone hunting for more. I think we can safely say ten cucumber vines are too many.)
Anyway, in an effort to think of a way to use all this bounty, Brian started improvising. He chopped up the veggies and started mixing them in with beans and pasta until the ratio looked right. Asked to suggest a dressing to go with this mixture, I proposed a lemon vinaigrette, which reminded Brian that he had some leftover lemon juice sitting in the freezer. So this got mixed with olive oil in a roughly 2-to-1 ratio, and he also threw in a couple of cloves of garlic, because, well, why wouldn't you? Then he tossed it all together, and presto, a healthy and colorful salad.
For a totally impromptu dinner, this was surprisingly tasty. The light citrusy dressing was just the right complement to the fresh veggies, and the garlic, in its uncooked state, packed a distinct punch. Between us, we ate most of it, leaving only one lunch's worth of leftovers. (Say what you will about the healthfulness of our diet as a whole, you can't accuse us of not eating our veggies—at least not during the summertime.)
So, since this ad hoc recipe proved such a success, I hastened to commit it to paper before we forgot it. Here, for your dining pleasure, is Brian's Summer Pasta Salad:
Toss everything together willy-nilly in a large mixing bowl. Let it sit for about 15 minutes to let the flavors mix, and serve.
- 1 1/2 medium cucumbers (or 1 very large one), diced
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1 tightly-packed cup basil leaves, finely shredded (Brian just chopped them coarsely, but we agreed that smaller pieces would probably distribute the flavor better)
- 1/4 pound tubettini pasta, cooked and drained
- 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt