Monday, 5 January 2015

Tomato and Basil Pasta Salad

I love these long, hot days of Summer.
Relaxing, gardening, walking and cooking are all an essential part of summer holidays.
Hubby has been crabbing every day on the island.  Putting fresh bait in the crab traps and wading through the water in his waders to check them out at low tide.
This afternoon I was waiting on the bank watching as hubby picked up one trap, inspected it, restocked it with enticing bait and started wading out to deeper water.
He was about knee high when he unexpectedly went down on his backside in shock.  He clambered back up and started calling for " help ".  I called out to him " did you say help?"  He nodded and said "help" again.  Mindless of the mud flat I started towards him, he was agitated and thrashing by now...
Suddenly he lifted up a hand, triumphantly holding one crab claw and said "a crab grabbed the toe of my boot, I had to get him to let go".

He really did not know what was trying to pull him under, but will always recognise this in the future.
Incidentally the crab also punctured a hole in the boot of his rubber waders, luckily he has another pair.

After a day like that you need a simple dinner to prepare.

Hopefully when we check them again today we will catch a one armed crab.
(Please don't feel sorry for the crab, he would have torn a toe off hubby happily if he could get through his boot.)

There was no crab on the menu tonight so I made this simple fresh tomato pasta salad and served it with marinated fried chicken skewers, a lettuce based salad and crusty bread.

Perfectly Simple Fresh Tomato Pasta Salad

Serves 6 - 8 as a side dish

500g dried Italian spiral pasta, or any other shape that you prefer
1 tablespoon water
6 big fresh tomatoes, or a large handful of cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup virgin olive oil
handful fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

Bring  a large pan of water to the boil with the lid on.
When it is boiling add 1 tablespoon salt and stir.  Then pour in the pasta in a steady stream, stirring all the while.  Place wooden spoon over rim of pan, place lid over top and let water come back to a boil.    Put your timer on for 12 minutes.    When the water has returned to the boil remove the lid and occasionally stir while it is cooking.
In the meantime place the washed tomatoes on a chopping board and roughly dice  Finely chop the  basil.
Test the pasta after 12 minutes, it might need longer depending on the shape pasta used.  It should be cooked al dente,  just soft to the bite.
Remove and drain pasta, rinse with cold water in a colander.
Return pan to medium heat, add olive oil and tomatoes.  Cook for 3 minutes then toss the pasta over top and stir to combine.  Continue to cook for another 3 - 5 minutes until the tomato is wilted and the pasta is coated with tomato and oil.  Turn off heat, stir through the chopped basil, then season with salt and pepper.
Pour onto a serving plate.
This can be served hot or at room temperature.  It is also fresh the next day if stored overnight in the fridge.

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Sunday, 4 January 2015

January 2015 Garden Share Collective

This month the garden is totally bursting with growth and produce.
While trees such as our peach trees have been incredibly successful,
we have also had our share of failures and mediocre crops.
There are only 5 mangoes on one tree, none on the other mango tree.
Only one avocado tree has set fruit, but this crop will be huge.

Delicious, sweet, luscious peaches.

The first snake beans have just been picked.
This bamboo tripod of snake beans will continue to flower and produce beans for about 3 months.

We are growing purple, yellow, white and Japanese eggplants.
Each variety had a distinct flavour and texture.
I prefer the sweet Japanese ones while a chef friend loves the yellow ones.

This is our third planting of lettuce plants since Spring started,
we need to sow the new ones every 6 weeks before they go to seed.

The first grapes are turning red but we have only half the amount of grapes set
than what we had last year.  The dry spring we experienced could have contributed to this factor.
It is disappointing but we will enjoy what we reap
(no wine will be made this year).

We are growing Sugar baby and a striped variety of watermelon.
The sugar babies are nearly full size but are yet to ripen.
We will eat these in February while the striped ones will take longer to grow.

Shallots, green and red compete with grass to grow tall and strong.

My soy bean plants have grown incredibly well and the lovely young pods are delicious when boiled.

There are Green beans, Italian beans, Lima beans, yellow beans and borlotti beans growing happily together.

Capsicums, an integral garden vegetable are always welcome.

Here is a mingled mess of spinach, marigolds, chillies and leeks.
Not every garden has to be tidy and neat.

Some recently picked tomatoes, this has been a great tomato growing summer!

Chilli bushes, every garden must have at least one.

Jalapenos, I have dried them, pickled them and chopped them to add to fresh salads and dishes.

These red shallots were left too long and they grew into delicious, small red onions.
Their flavour is amazing.

The olives on the trees are growing bigger :D

Pretty chive flowers, a delight to view and to eat in your salad.

There have been so many strawberries, blackberries and loganberries this season.
While it has been dry for the grapes, these berries have blossomed.

These are the highlights of my January garden, if you enjoyed viewing this please have a look at the other Garden Share Collective members gardens hosted by Liz at Strayed from the Table.

Enjoy, Merryn xx