Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Swell Season, Tomato-Feta Pasta Salad & Growing Things: Update

There are few things I love more than fall in New England. Being a mere 27 days away from it, I can barely contain myself! September brings the start to three months of unadulterated magic.
Oh sure, there's nothing like the bite of your first summer tomato grown in a pot (or from the ground) in your own yard, and other seasonal fruits and vegetables sprung from the same earth you call home, sweetest under the surrender of sun. I would never argue that. However, for me, that's where the allure of the burning season ends.
Only weeks away from the season where, leaves, in a final act of rebellion against their inevitable fall, rage into red, yellow and orange, and fade into the ground from which they began only to be reborn into spring two seasons from now, I am antsy. I am impatient with eager anticipation.
Nothing...NOTHING is more exhilarating than the wind dancing; The air, fig and harmony upon the dawn of winter; Perfume, thick and pregnant with glowing maple. September, October, if I should ever have a daughter I will name her 'November'. The swell season is nearly here. The commencement of once and sometimes twice daily workouts--something I dread in the summer but adore come fall. And the return of *Jason Mraz Sunday's. Sing. Dance. Eat. Rejoice!

*Jason Mraz Sunday's are characterized by dancing and singing along to Jason Mraz's entire discography and are primarily exclusive to Sunday's. During which time phone calls are not responded to. Sometimes ice cream may be involved.

Tomato-Feta Whole Grain Pasta Salad
Recipe Courtesy and Adapted from Ina Garten

I was excited to use the Homemade Feta from Last week's Post, Here, and home grown basil, parsley and cherry tomatoes to make this very tasty salad.


1/2 pound fusilli (spirals) whole grain pasta (or white) (I started with two cups dry)
Kosher or Sea salt
Good olive oil
1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
3/4 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
1 pound good feta cheese, medium-diced (I used homemade)
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

" For the dressing:

5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons good olive oil
1 garlic clove, diced
1 teaspoon capers, drained
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1/2 cup packed flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup sweet basil, thinly sliced


In large pot of boiling salted water, add 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and pasta. Cook until al dente, or to your liking. Pour into colander to drain and set aside to cool.
In large bowl, add cooled pasta, tomatoes, olives, feta and diced sun-dried tomatoes.

" For Dressing:

In food processor, add sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt and pepper and, process until combined and tomatoes are broken up. Add dressing to pasta along with basil and parsley, and gently stir until completely combined.

Growing Things

Maybe some of you will recall my first Growing Things post, Here. This year we planted fruits and vegetables, a lot of which were new to us, and had very good success despite transplanting some things late in the season and our unfamiliarity with other things.

One morning last week I opened my front door and was greeted with a surprise, not only had one of the lavender sprigs grown four inches, but it also bloomed.

In Growing Things One, Here, these cucumbers looked hopeless. I transplanted and showered them with love. They gratefully recovered and grew strong and delicious.

In addition to plum tomatoes, we also grew yellow cherries. They were sweet and the tastiest tomatoes I've ever had.

The flesh of home grown bell peppers is usually thinner and the taste is more vibrant than most of their store-bought counterpart.

Everyday I would treat myself to freshly picked strawberries as I gardened.

Though the jalapeno's weren't transplanted until late in the season, we're going to get at least one good batch.


  1. Your pasta dish is fabulous and I can imagine how great it tastes! Way to go with the lavender and your garden! It all looks beautiful! I'm more of a summer person and could skip fall and winter and go right to spring and summer again. Thanks for the Mraz video, he's great and I really enjoyed it!

  2. You are such a great writer. This post made me very excited for fall. You garden really took off. Good for you!! and as always, the dish looks great.

  3. Beautiful garden and beautiful pasta dish! That homemade feta sounds lovely!

  4. That looks like the perfect work week lunch. I would want to eat it everyday. I too am excited about fall, bring it on. . . after this heat wave!

  5. OK, this was beautiful. Everything. Your words, the song (a favorite of mine, and this rendition is perfection), the recipe... I am also counting down the days until Fall, it too is my favorite season. Summer, to me, is nothing but a long, hot vehicle taking me into the cool wonder that is Fall. I wish we were neighbors, you seem like a good friend to me.

  6. Your garden looks fabulous! I've been making a pasta salad with feta, tomatoes and pesto several times this summer. It tastes exactly like summer to me!

  7. This pasta salad looks delicious! I'm with you and looove fall!

  8. I get super happy this time of year too! Fall is magical for me. I was just thinking the other day if I had a daughter I would name her January - I love the sound of it. And I love your pasta! It's packed with some of my favorites - fresh and summery! Your garden is looking good too!

  9. What a fabulous salad. It's a great place to use the bounty of your garden. Your photos are spectacular. This was my first visit here, but I'll be back often to see what you've been cooking up. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  10. Ah yes...fall is a time of revitalization for me...I can feel it in the air...I'm sooooo excited! Go away nasty, sticky, hot. Your salad sounds wonderful...and your growing things look so happy! And guess what? I have that video saved as a fave...I like to open it up and watch/listen/sing/dance every once in a while!! =)

  11. Beautifully written, and I couldn't agree with you more...autumn, Jason, dancing and eating ice cream! I always felt so lucky to be born at the beginning of October right when the leaves are at their peak where I live. It is my favorite season of the year too. I have blogged this recipe too and it is one of my it (and Ina)!

  12. Love your pasta salad! Esp. when it is made with homegrown veggies! Love the green paprika in your garden!

  13. Really nice post! I really enjoyed that and seeing your plants too. Hey, I think tomato and feta are a natural marriage. Mmmm mmm

  14. A fantastic pasta salad, yum! I also love fall best :)

  15. Wow! You do have very green fingers! My garden has been taken over by weeds! The pasta dish looks really delicious too!

  16. aww which means summer is coming to an end =( What a refreshing and yummy pasta salad!

  17. Guess what fall means? Apples! Fresh, tart delicious apples straight from the orchard or farmers market -- baked in a tart or dipped in sweet/salty homemade caramel and swirled with dark chocolate. OK -- officially hungry now! Will try your summer pasta salad too, looks famtastic

  18. Oh how pretty and summery, your salad is bursting with some of our favorite flavors. And your garden looks wonderful! Thanks so much for joining us for Grow Your Own.

  19. That looks like a great salad. The cheese and sun-dried tomatoes as a sauce is very tempting. I think I'm going to be making many pasta salads in the next few weeks if this trend keeps us.

  20. Are your cherry tomatoes sungolds? This is a beautiful pasta salad. So colorful and I think that means it's good for us too. What a great entry to GYO.


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