Basil, beets & cicadas

It isn't often I have an evening of uninterrupted solitude. Even tonight, I suppose, you could count the contented furry beast at my side as a companion or distraction. But let free from the restaurant, with a Sox fanatic at the game and a roommate fled to the city, I sped home in the twilight, seeped in freedom.

Equally unexpected was dinner. I'd expected a bowl of stolen staff food after closing, guzzled down with a glass of Peak's nut brown and still settling as I made my way to bed. It was a treat, this meal for one, but I was unprepared.

I tallied the troops:

1 pound dried, homemade pasta,
the entire beet harvest from my garden,
4 dirty, rumpled garden white onions,
several tablespoons bacon fat,
and 4 live, healthy basil plants.

Hardly Thanksgiving, but certainly enough to march on. I began with the fat and onions. As the cicadas whispered through the screens, their steady violins readying the night to fall, the smell of bacon wafted out into the air. I sliced basil and beets, and watched as a plan appeared beneath my hands.

Pasta water went on to boil, a pinch of salt sinking slowly as temperature rose. Then went the flat, crisp noodles themselves—the garlic pepper pasta of a post just passed. Bacon and onion formed a slow, translucent stew, while the sudden drop of beets added cubes and color. Next followed noodles and finally basil, and dinner was set. Alone on the deck, I settled in to enjoy.


Serves 2-3

Boil 3 medium red beets until tender, about 45 minutes. Slice into small cubes. Sauté 4 chopped medium sized white onions in 4 tablespoons bacon fat or olive oil until translucent. Meanwhile, boil 1/2 pound whole wheat pasta. When pasta is done, drain and add to onion pan. Add beet cubes, 1 cup fresh basil leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well and serve warm with hard, grated cheese.


Anonymous said...

Mmmmm, this looks scrumptious, Elspeth. Your creative twists on simple ingredients are a wonderful and continuing source of inspiration. Thank you!

When I come to Wellfleet next week, I'll bring you a jar of the grape jelly I made this morning with the Concord grapes a friend brought me yesterday. Papa has pronounced it "deeeeee-lish."

xo, Mama

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