I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but New York is having a bit of a heat wave at the moment. My apartment wasn’t designed for maximum air-flow, and, as a result, it’s so stuffy in there that I’ve been eating most of my meals on a tray in the bedroom, as close to my sole window-unit as possible.
The kitchen is the hottest room in the place, so I’ve obviously been doing as little cooking as humanly possible. (When that much sweat involved, it’s hard enough to motivate to eat, let alone turn on a couple of burners.) One can only stand so many makeshift meals, though, and a few nights ago I hit the tipping point. I wanted a real dinner, dammit.
The vegetable market around the corner yielded mint, tomatoes, green beans, and walnuts: perfect fixings for that summer staple, an easy pesto-dressed pasta. While the water boiled, the pesto ingredients went for a whirl in the food processor; the ripe, sweet tomatoes, halved and stirred in with the resulting minty puree, I touched as little as possible. I dunked the green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces, in the pasta during the last minute or so of its time on the stove, tossed both with the tomato-pesto mixture, and less than an hour after my trip to the store, I was happily chowing down.
Minimal physical and financial expenditure + big results = a winner. I even went back for seconds, and in this heat, that’s no mean feat.
Pasta with Mint Pesto, Tomatoes, and Green Beans
1 bunch fresh mint, leaves only
1/4 cup lightly toasted unsalted walnuts
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled
Coarse kosher salt
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 pound capellini
A handful or two of green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
2. While water boils, make pesto: Blend mint leaves, walnuts, olive oil, and garlic in processor until coarse puree forms. Season with coarse salt, transfer to a large bowl, and stir in tomatoes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring pesto to room temperature and stir before using.)
3. Cook pasta according to package instructions. When a minute or two of cooking time remains, stir in green beans to blanch. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and beans; rinse under cool water and drain again.
4. Add pasta and beans to pesto mixture and stir well to combine; season to taste with salt and pepper, adding reserved cooking water if too dry. Serve hot or at room temperature.