THIS IS GOING to be a very different summer.
Every year for the past 25 years or more, well, ever since my first child was born and he is nearly 27, I have planted a vegetable garden.
By now, the peas would be in flower, artichokes coming on and spinach would be showing up in our salads.
But this year due to a convergence of circumstances I am allowing my garden to go wild.
What happened, you ask? It started with a new job.
Then there was the southerly windstorm in November that blew down my deer fence, and then last month some low back pain grounded me for a few weeks, but perhaps the real reason I am allowing the garden to go fallow this year is the acquisition of our new truck camper.
Rather than weeding, pruning, tilling and planting this spring, my husband and I have been rambling around the Peninsula hiking and sleeping outside.
This of course has necessitated a shift in my culinary aspirations.
The camper is equipped with a mini fridge, a small two-burner stove and an even smaller sink.
This spring, I have been looking for minimalist cooking ideas that satisfy our preference for fresh and unprocessed foods but that can be prepared quickly with minimal equipment.
The following recipe includes a simple hack that saves time and clean-up: Cook the pasta along with the veggies.
Skip the separate pot and the colander.
Just be careful that you have enough water to cook the pasta, but not so much that you need to drain it at the end.
You probably already know this, but it has taken me all my life to appreciate simplicity.
Despite my neglect, kale, broccoli rabe, green onions, parsley and cilantro have reseeded themselves in my garden for this weekend’s adventure.
Feel free to use a wide variety of veggies such as asparagus, peas, sweet peppers, summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower or carrots.
One-pot pasta primavera (adapted from www.thekitchn.com)
1 deep cast iron skillet or Dutch oven with a lid
Cutting board and knife
Measuring spoon and cup if you must, but estimating is fine.
3-4 cloves garlic, smashed (or ½ teaspoon garlic powder)
6 tablespoons. butter
½ a lemon
1 medium shallot or ½ onion, minced
4-6 cups water
1½ teaspoon salt
12 ounces uncooked penne or other short pasta
3-4 cups fresh seasonal veggies chopped into similarly sized pieces
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1-2 cups pre-cooked chicken or smoked salmon (optional)
¾ cup Parmesan cheese, grated or chopped into small bits
A pinch of red pepper flakes
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add the shallot/onion and smashed garlic, and sauté until softened and beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and water, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook over high heat.
Reduce the heat back to medium-high, uncover and cook until the pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes.
Stir the pasta occasionally, loosening noodles that stick to the bottom or sides of the pot.
Pour off excess liquid if needed, leaving about 1-2 cups.
Add the chopped vegetables and cook uncovered until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, cheese, (cooked meat if desired) and remaining butter. Once the cheese and butter are melted, the cooking liquid should be significantly reduced, leaving only a light and buttery sauce.
Allow to sit for a few minutes. Toss with a squeeze of lemon.
Serve in bowls garnished with red pepper flakes, and more Parmesan cheese if desired.
Store leftovers for an even easier cold lunch.
Betsy Wharton is the proprietor of the Clallam Canning Co., a local purveyor of artisan pickles and other farm to jar goods. You can find her and her products at the Sprouting Hope Greenhouse at 826 E. First St. in Port Angeles. Or contact her at betsy@clallam canningcompany.com.