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Simple Summer Supper

Spaghetti with zucchini and heirloom tomato This was dinner last night.

I wanted to use up the small zucchini Terra Firma delivered last week and I had a large Marvel Stripe tomato that was starting to go, so I decided to put both of them into a simple pasta dish.

First I dropped 4 ounces of spaghetti into a big pot of salted boiling water. While that was boiling, I sauteed 2 TB of olive oil and 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic with chopped zucchini and then let it all cook, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, I chopped up a large tomato (very large). When the spaghetti was done, I tossed it with the zucchini, added the tomato, and tossed again. I topped it all with some toasted bread crumbs and passed freshly grated parmesan cheese at the table. Served with some sweet crimson flame grapes, it made a simple summer supper.

Now, it wasn't perfect. Next time I'll try cooking the zucchini over a medium low heat before the pasta began to cook. I think zucchini tastes best when it's browned, and last night it just didn't have time to do that. I'll also spoon the tomatoes into the pan with a slotted spoon so as to avoid most of the juice, which just made the dish messy. (I'm making sure I always include the tomato jelly and seeds, though, after reading Harold McGee's explanation of why tomato jelly has more flavor than the flesh.)

And I'll use conventional spaghetti. Last week I picked up some whole wheat spaghetti in my yearly experiment to see if I like it as well as refined-flour spaghetti, and this year, like every year, I don't. The texture just isn't right. I've been happy with whole wheat penne in the past, but whole wheat spaghetti just doesn't twirl or otherwise behave like its refined cousin, and I always go back. Since most of the grains we eat are unrefined, I'm not too worried: the largest loss in refined flour is fiber, and I think we're getting plenty of that in the rest of our diet.

How did she end up with just 1 small zucchini? I hear you asking at home. Well, that's one of the problems with the small box. You sometimes receive a token amount of a vegetable, not enough to use unless you supplement it with more of the same or combine it with something else. The other problem, of course, is that you just plain miss out on some of the good stuff of the season as it goes into the larger sized boxes, but not yours.

But we just can't use up a medium box, not unless they've balanced it with more fruit to vegetables than when we started. The first year we subscribed to Terra Firma Farms was a constant struggle to use up vegetables, once the season kicked in. So much so that Jesse insisted, when the new year rolled around, that we downsize to the small box. "This is supposed to help," he reasoned, "not cause you more stress" and I couldn't argue. That summer, every dish I made contained, or was garnished with, tomato (or both). And the melon! Even with the small box, we often receive two melons a week, just too much melon for the two of us.

So I contract for a small box and supplement as needed throughout the year. It provides a good base for my weekly menus, and serves as a handy guide for what is in season. And of course, the prices are good and I like supporting a local farm.

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i've just read every entry here almost non-stop over the last two days. i'm not just interested in eating well or being thrifty-- it's become a necessity to eat on a limited budget, as i've just finished my master's and am teaching college courses for a year before going to get my phD. (something's a little odd about being able to qualify for food stamps as a college instructor, don't you think?) thank you so much for this! your shopping experiences and recipes are going to be put to practical use.

this sounds delicious - I think I am going to make something similar for dinner tomorrow - thanks for the inspiration :)

We had something very much like this tonight - no zucchini, but some peppers cooked much the same way, and basil instead of garlic.

I've been experimenting with very simple savory cornmeal pancakes - last night was a shredded zucchini mixed with cornmeal, milk, salt, pepper, and some mild hot peppers from the box, with proportions to make it a batter that makes silver dollar sized pancakes. Cook it a bit of hot oil, yum. The same basic idea worked well with thin sliced okra and my 6 y/o and 2 y/o both tried it out.

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» Week 1: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Photos | Summary: Under budget - $3.20
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