Summer Table: Minute-Made

When it comes to cooking, I’m a subscriber of the ‘food-on-the-fly’ philosophy – which basically amounts to throwing together any and every item from my pantry shelf or refrigerator door, with a vague hope that the sum of aggregate parts will in the end resemble somewhat of a substantial and flavorful (if not refined) main course.

In most cases, pasta dishes are my go-to, since a box of whole wheat rotini is a permanent food cupboard fixture. Toss hot pasta with extra-virgin olive oil and any number of ingredients – frozen spinach and cherry tomatoes; lemon zest and pecorino romano; fresh arugula and kidney beans; shrimp, white wine and garlic; capers and canned tomatoes; tuna and greek olives; fresh basil and toasted pine nuts… the possibilities are endless and are all pretty delicious to boot.

Now that summer is in full swing, I’ve been switching up routine to take full advantage of the abundance of locally grown produce. It’s my own never-ending salad bar. Same rules apply: any and everything is fair game.

One of my favorite food writers, NYT columnist Mark Bittman (aka ‘The Minimalist), shares my ‘fresh-is-more’ approach and is out to prove it with this July story: 101 Simple Salads for the Season. All, in theory, take less than 20 minutes to prepare with simple ingredients in your fruit and veggie crisper. Fear not, carnivores – there are plenty of entries that include meat and seafood, as well as grains, lentils and noodles. #59 is a personal favorite, as are #41 and #47. It’s summer – time to step away from the stove.

Francesco Tonelli for The New York Times
Image courtesy of Francesco Tonelli for The New York Times

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