Zucchinis, and Peppers and Tomatoes, Oh My


Last week when we thought that maybe we’d get a frost, we raced out and picked all the remaining summer squashes, peppers both red and green, cherry tomatoes, and basil—the tender stuff that can too easily be zinged by the cold. Frost was predicted to be less likely here along the coast, but I noticed the next day that some of my neighbors lost a few things this time although we didn’t.

I have mixed feelings sometimes about frost. There comes a time when I am a bit tired of tending the garden and want to get onto other winter preparation chores, and wonder if wouldn’t it be a relief if I didn’t have those squashes to think about? Still, when the frost misses us, I think, “oh, good; a few more days of some annual favorites.”

Meanwhile, there were all those vegetables sitting on the kitchen table. Even though it was really chilly outside, we had a wholesome, fragrant, summery meal of zucchini, chopped peppers, cherry tomatoes, basil, with garlic, and black olives, on squiggly pasta. It looked beautiful and tasted wonderful. Some of you may also have rescued a basket of summer vegetables and wonder, what now; or perhaps you will save this idea for next summer or a trip to the produce section of the grocery store.

This is a non-recipe. Lots of flexibility here: I used zucchini, but if you have yellow squashes they would work as well; you could add hot peppers if you enjoy a little heat; a chopped up tomato instead of cherry tomatoes. The proportions of vegetables ought to be to taste. You don’t need a lot of black olives but they add a charming richness. About a quarter of a cup of tomato sauce sat in the fridge and I added that, but you’ll achieve a fine result if you don’t. Thai basil added a slightly spicier aroma than big leafed basil would but, if the big leafed sort is what you have, by all means use that. I used fusilli because I like the look of it, but really almost any pasta would work as well.

This goes together really quickly. I’d start the pasta water boiling after I started sautéing the vegetables, and by the time the sauce ingredients have become acquainted, the pasta ought to be done.

Summer Vegetables and Pasta
  • Pasta of your choice
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic, minced
  • Zucchini, diced
  • Red and/or green peppers, chopped coarsely
  • Black olives, coarsely chopped
  • Basil, shredded
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Parmesan cheese, shredded
  1. Put the pasta water on to boil.
  2. Heat the olive oil, and cook the garlic in it just until you can smell it.
  3. Add the zucchini and peppers and cook until they are just tender.
  4. Meanwhile, begin cooking the pasta.
  5. Add the olives, basil, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Stir in the cherry tomatoes
  7. Drain the pasta
  8. Toss the sauce and pasta together and add shredded parmesan cheese.

Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.