No one wants to spend a summer’s day cooped up (pardon any inadvertent pun) in the kitchen, standing over the proverbial hot stove (and what was that proverb anyway?)  To that end, we here at What the Ducks! offer some ideas for fresh and delicious meals made with as few ingredients* as possible.  Presenting three easy ways to use some of this season’s most popular crops– no oven, some stove, all tasty.


Spaghetti alla California checca (serves 2-3)

I have been trying to replicate this recipe from a dish I ate in Pasadena about 20 years ago.  Yesterday I think I finally nailed it….

Four or five medium Roma tomatoes

At least 5 fresh (this might be the key) garlic cloves minced with knife

Fresh basil (I used purple—it should be a rich basil but not one of the flavored ones) cut in ribbons

Extra virgin olive oil (the tastiest you can get)

Sea salt

Fresh ground pepper

½ lb spaghetti

Parmesan cheese to taste

Prepare spaghetti according to package instructions. Heat about one and a half  tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat then add garlic and sauté about a minute.  Add tomatoes and cook until they just break apart, about another minute or two.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Turn off heat and stir in basil.  Heap spaghetti into each bowl then immediately pour sauce over each serving.  Offer Parmesan cheese at table but this might be flavorful enough even without.

Note:  The trick with this ultra fast sauce is that you kind of want to have the spaghetti just ready before, not too early because it will get sticky, but not at exactly the same time so that it distracts you from paying attention to your fast-cooking sauce.  You’ll get the hang of it after a time or two.  Heck, it only took me 20 years, right?


Leftover Spaghetti with Fresh Herbs

We had a couple of servings of pasta and lots of farmers market herbs sitting around waiting to be eaten so here’s what we did day two:

Already cooked spaghetti

Fresh basil (more purple stuff—it looks so pretty), roughly minced

Fresh Italian parsley, roughly minced

Extra virgin olive oil

Parmesan cheese

I didn’t even use salt and pepper because the herbs were so fresh and the cheese is just salty enough.  Use your own S & P discretion.

Gently reheat the pasta.  Drizzle with olive oil and work into the noodles.  Mix the herbs and sprinkle with cheese.  Voila!**


Peaches & Honey with Fresh Basil (serves one—maybe the cook?!)

The name says it all!  Take a dripping ripe peach of the finest flavor (no mealy mass-produced fruit need apply here) slice, discard pit and stem.  Place slices in a serving dish.  Ribbon about 5 medium basil leaves (try purple if you can get it.)  Toss with peaches and drizzle with mild honey.  Tastes like summer!


*Important note: Each ingredient needs to be truly delicious in order to pull this off.

**Or whatever that is in Italian.


Copyright 2012, Lori Fontanes