Spaghetti with Fresh Corn and Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

This pasta makes use of our summer bounty of cherry tomatoes.  We slow-roast them then add to creamy sun-dried tomato pesto sauce and toss with summer corn, noodles and fresh basil.  The sweet corn lends a pleasant and unexpected crunch.  The roasted tomatoes—rich, concentrated flavor in each bite.  Feel free to substitute frozen corn for the fresh, and uncooked cherry tomatoes (halved) for the slow-roasted ones.

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Antipasto Ease

I love a dish that’s simple to prepare, yet presents with such elegance everyone assumes you’ve toiled all afternoon in the kitchen.  The sort of culinary sleight of hand that leaves a cook quietly smiling, as diners gush with equal amounts of enthusiasm and incredulity. Having a few such tricks tucked away in your recipe box will save you in a pinch.

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Ratatouille: Summer’s Stew

Iowa City, Iowa — We’re visiting family in the Midwest, and today is another in a series of 90-plus-degree scorchers. Hot stew on a hot summer day?  The idea sounds absurd, if not downright tortured.  The usual loyal kitchen helpers are likely to scatter the moment you crank up the stove.  No doubt you’ll be left chopping and stirring in solitude.  No worries.  Ratatouille is a simple dish, just right for one cook.  Use vine-ripened tomatoes, tender-skinned squash and sweet peppers, plus plenty of garlic and onion.  Sauté each vegetable in olive oil, one at a time, then stir them all together in a sturdy pot and simmer the mixture, so the flavors commingle in a magical way.

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Sautéed Succotash with Zucchini

Succotash is an old-fashioned American dish composed of corn cooked with lima beans.  You may have seen it at a Thanksgiving buffet, happily situated along-side jello-molds and marshmallow-topped yam casseroles.  This version takes the spirit of the original down a divergent path, more Italian than American—sautéing the vegetables with garlic, summer squash, creamy cannellini beans and handfuls of fresh basil.  The vegetables caramelize in the pan as they cook, and the end result is full of deep flavor—a far cry from Thanksgiving.  Just right for summer.

Leave out the squash if you prefer, or substitute bell peppers in season.  Arugula would be a nice addition as well.

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Farro with Roasted Vegetables

This versatile vegetarian dish serves equally well as a main course or a hearty accompaniment. Substitute whatever produce you have on hand — zucchini, eggplant, cherry tomatoes and peppers in the summer or carrots, parsnips, fennel, broccoli, cauliflower and winter squash in colder months. Whatever vegetables you choose, the flavor is sure to be deep, complex and oh so good. Roasting takes any ordinary veggie and intensifies the flavors, delivering taste that’s utter magic.

Farro is an ancient wheat grain from Italy. It has a chewy, soft texture and nutty flavor when cooked. It’s worth seeking out — you’ll find it at Whole Foods and other quality markets.

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