I wish I could say that this pasta dish is a toast to summer but it isn’t. It’s a toast to the rain that fell late yesterday afternoon that finally broke the suffocating heat of the past week. Yes, a downpour. Yes, I danced in the rain. Literally. And I almost sang out loud as I danced.
We were outside when it happened. We walked around the block to our neighbor’s house, the one with the barbecue and halo-halo stall for the duration of the school summer break. The moment we stepped out of the house, I noticed the dark skies at once. Speedy, eternally pessimistic about the weather, said it would rain in the city and we wouldn’t taste a raindrop. He was wrong. After Alex had finished her maiz con hielo and two sticks of barbecue, she was taking a bite off my barbecue when the first raindrops fell.
Did we run home? No, of course not. I said no running. Rather, let’s walk slowly and savor the rain. As it turned out, we didn’t run home for another reason. Alex wanted to pass by the house of yet another neighbor, the one with a convenience store, because she wanted chichirya (that’s chips for you non-Filipinos). We were buying her barquillos and whatnot when the raindrops started getting larger and steadier. I lifted my hands, turned my face to the sky and I felt I could fly. Oh, what a glorious feeling! It rained for a few hours, the free shower drenching the garden — hopefully, enough to turn the dull dead color of the grass into something brighter. Hopefully.
But as things often go, one good thing happens but is offset by another that’s totally terrible. My server went kaput again bringing the blog offline intermittently from sunset until well after midnight. If you’re into the techie side of blogging, you might have heard about the brute force attacks on WordPress blogs that have been going around for weeks. Well, black hat hackers may know a few tricks but not all. The web is not for them to rule. But that’s really another story. I should tell you about the pasta now.
This pasta dish was inspired by that French classic called the ratatouille. A medley of vegetables sautéed in olive oil to which I added non-ratatouille ingredients like portobello mushrooms and bacon. Just a teeny bit of bacon for added flavor. The veggies-mushroom-bacon mix was tossed with cooked spaghetti and voila! — a delicious and colorful pasta dish.
Ratatouille-inspired summer garden pasta: light on the meat, heavy on the veggies
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup bacon chopped
- 1 onion diced
- 1 tablespoons garlic minced
- 3 tomatoes diced
- 1 bell pepper diced
- 1 zucchini diced
- 2 portobello mushrooms cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
- 2 to 3 tablespoons black olives sliced
- 100 grams spaghetti (or your preferred pasta shape), cooked al dente in salted water
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 3 to 4 tablespoons parsley chopped
Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan. Add the bacon and cook until lightly crisp. Add the onion and garlic; cook just until fragrant.
Add the rest of the vegetables, mushrooms and black olives to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat just until the vegetables are done. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
Throw in the cooked pasta and toss to coat each noodle with oil.
Turn off the heat. Add the parsley and toss to blend. Taste, add more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve hot.