Summer Pasta Bowl and Cilantro-Infused Vinegar

1920After making the clafouti, I still had one ear of corn left and some more tomatoes and a bunch of cilantro. I decided to make two things: a summer pasta bowl and some cilantro-flavored vinegar to use in later recipes (like salad dressing).

The pasta bowl is super simple since the whole point of summer is perfect vegetables prepared simply. I sautéed in a pan a combination of:

  • One summer squash
  • The kernels from one ear of corn (not a huge ear)
  • A little onion and garlic

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That’s it. While that was sautéing, I mixed a bunch of chopped tomatoes with just a bit of olive oil (the good stuff since it won’t cook), a little white balsamic vinegar (doesn’t change the color of foods you add it to), and the chopped cilantro with salt and pepper. This tomato salad will then get tossed into the pasta at the end. I usually use about a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio of olive oil to vinegar. It depends on my mood.   Some days I like it sharper so I’ll add more vinegar. Some days I want to have the olive oil be more pronounced.

I cooked the pasta as well while the vegetables were cooking.

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When they were all done, I added the pasta and the cooked pasta to the bowl with the tomato salad. The warm pasta and veggies will warm but not cook the tomatoes and the dressing on the tomatoes infuses the pasta and veggies with additional flavor. The cilantro adds a nice herbal note to what might otherwise have felt more Italian. Because of the cilantro flavor, I decided NOT to add any kind of parmesan or other cheese. If I had had fresh basil instead, I probably would have used parmesan and I might also have used the stronger, regular balsamic vinegar.

Like so many things, it depends on what you have and what you need to use. I think that’s the difference of cooking from a CSA. When you get a share of vegetables every week, it changes the way you cook. Instead of thinking I’d like to eat recipe A this week so I need to buy these ingredients, you think instead I have these ingredients so I will try to make recipe X or Y or Z. It is a little challenging at first, but after years of getting my vegetables this way, I struggle at times doing it the other way around.

1918I had a lot of stems of cilantro left over and a bit of leaves so I decided to try to flavor some white wine vinegar. I have had mixed luck infusing things with soft herbs so I decided to do it in the refrigerator. I chopped the cilantro small enough to fit in a glass container and filled it to cover the herbs with white wine vinegar. I left it in the fridge for about three days and then strained it. I’ve been keeping the vinegar in the fridge just to be safe and using it here and there in salad dressing where I wish I had the cilantro flavor but I don’t have any cilantro to add. It’s pretty subtle, but it is nice. It’s another tool in the tool chest of cooking as the summer winds down and we head into fall. I’ve been able to capture a bit of summer for use a bit later in the season.

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