Monday, September 10, 2012

Summer Meets Fall Dinner

With summer sadly drawing to a close and a hint of fall already in the air, I decided to combine two of my favorite recipes, one from each season:  Summer Basil Pasta Salad and Tomato Fennel Soup.
 The pasta salad could certainly be made any time of year but with fresh basil, green beans, zucchini and peppers from my garden, it is really the tastiest in the summer.  

If you've never cooked with or prepared fennel, here is a great video showing you how to chop, slice or dice fennel.  
Fennel is a root plant that has the flavors of licorice and anise but if you're not a fan of those flavors, don't let that stop you from trying it because it has a simply wonderful flavor, especially in soups.
 Here it is chopped and cooking with the onion and garlic (I used half white and half red onion just because that's what I had)
 This soup also provides a great way to use up your abundance of tomatoes (which if you grow your own, you know that by now you are giving them away to anyone and everyone who will take them!).  

I'm not a 'purist' when it comes to using and freezing my tomatoes -- I just don't have the time and frankly, I don't see the point of spending all that time piercing, boiling and removing skins and then coring and seeding them.  AND did you know that the skin contains most of the healthful nutrients found in the tomato?! So don't remove the skins.

For my soup, I simply diced them.  I do the same thing when freezing them and to some of the bags I add fresh, diced oregano and basil so they're all ready to add to my pasta sauces in the winter time. 
 Here are the recipes . . . enjoy! 

Tomato Fennel Soup
1 t olive oil
2 med bulbs fresh fennel, chopped (3 cups)
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup) 
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 28 oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes, undrained OR 5 c fresh, diced tomatoes
1 3/4 c chicken broth (I used sodium free)
1/4 t salt
1/8 t pepper  

In 4-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Cook fennel, onion and garlic in oil about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender. Stir in tomatoes, broth, salt and pepper.  Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Carefully pour half of the mixture into blender; cover and blend on high speed about 30 seconds or until smooth. Repeat with remaining mixture.
Summer Basil Pasta Salad

1/2 c chopped green onions
1/2 c chopped green, yellow or red peppers
1/2 c lightly steamed and cooled green beans
1/2 c chopped carrot
1/2 c chopped zucchini
3/4 c golden raisins (Do not substitute!)
1/2 - 1 c finely chopped fresh basil
16 oz. Fusilli pasta, cooked
1 c cooked barley (can also substitute black beans or white beans)

1/2 c sweet rice vinegar
2 t Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 t sugar
1 1/2 t salt
2 t olive oil
pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients for salad.  Combine ingredients for dressing and toss.  This is even better if you let it sit in the refrigerator overnight!

Linking to these parties this week . . .
The DIY Showoff
Marvelous Mondays
From My Front Porch to Yours
Under the Table and Dreaming


  1. My hubby would LOVE the soup! It's what he orders in restaurants when he can find it! Hugs!

  2. Oh, this is looks fabulous,I can smell the onion and garlic from here and I grabbed one of those luscious tomatoes...Thank you!


  3. I love fresh summer veggies! this looks great!


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