Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Weeding: Remember when I told you about the compost tomato plants, aka volunteers?  Well I have been harvesting cherry tomatoes from this ginormous tomato shrub for weeks now, filling a 24oz cottage cheese container each time.  Today, I went to harvest (it has been about 5 days since I last picked them) and I filled 2 of them and probably enough leftover for another one (but I ran out of containers).  I also picked 4 full size 'Lemon Boy' tomatoes from another plant within the compost bin!  This was in addition to the 13 full-size Big Boy tomatoes from the garden (the plant I actually bought and put in the soil).  Tomato City, man!
I find this all quite amusing really, considering that I am supposed to either start my tomato plants inside or buy them already started, stake them, water and fertilize, etc., all summer and then protect them from the frost in the fall.  How about this instead: I don't plant them, they don't start growing until the middle of June, they get flowers on them the beginning of September, I don't cover them when it freezes, I don't water or stake or pay any attention to them, and then I harvest bushels of tomatoes in October.  I like that kind of lazy gardening.

Reading: I am over half-way through Tattoo Girl, aka The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  It is okay, still not on my list of Things I am So Glad I Read.  Will I finish by Friday at 5?  Stay tuned.

Eating:  What do I make with all those cherry tomatoes, you ask?  Well, here is one of my favorite summertime recipes, using about a cottage cheese container of cherry tomatoes.  It is another Pampered Chef recipe.  I think the real name of it is Pasta Fresca with Chicken or something like that.  I call it "that one with all the cherry tomatoes and pasta that you cook in the microwave" or something similar.

4 cloves garlic, sliced or pressed
2 C. grape or cherry tomatoes
3 C. pasta (penne) uncooked
3 C. chicken broth
3/4 C. dry white wine (or another 3/4 C. broth if you already drank all your wine)
2 C. chicken, cooked and diced
1 1/4 C. fresh basil, divided, coarsely chopped
1 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 C. )

In Deep Covered Baker (or other microwavable casserole with a lid), drizzle or spritz olive oil.  Add garlic and tomatoes.  Cover.  Microwave on high for 4-5 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes.  Crush tomatoes with a spoon or similar (basically just break up the ones that haven't already exploded themselves).  Add pasta, broth, and wine.  Cover and microwave on high for 16-18 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring after 10 minutes.  Add chicken cheese and all but 2 Tblsp. of the basil.  Stir and serve, sprinkling remaining basil on top. 

Super easy, all in one dish, doesn't heat up the kitchen at all, and the flavors are the best of summer.  If you don't have fresh basil (sad!!), you can use some dried basil instead.  I would add it when you add the broth and pasta so it has time to infuse the flavor into the pasta.  And there is plenty of time while the tomatoes and then pasta are cooking to cook the chicken breasts.  We serve this with French bread so we can soak up every last drop of the juice.  It makes about 6 generous servings, so we always have lots of leftovers.

We are actually having this as leftovers tonight!

Until we eat or weed again,
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