This summer has been fairly disappointing so far. Granted, a lot has happened over the past couple months, but I still feel as if we have not been enjoying enough "summery" activities! For one, the weather has been absolutely atrocious. Lots and lots of rain. The days where it has not rained have been gorgeous, but the many, many downpours we have experienced have put a major damp-er (haha) in my summer plans for the kids. There have been fewer hikes, pool days, bike rides, park play dates, and beach picnics. I had big plans to take the family to the drive-in this weekend, but it looks like there might be rain then too. Drat.
|Matthew is perfectly content sitting inside and playing LEGOS. He's always been a bit of a couch potato.|
|Emma likes to sit at Paul's desk and tell me: "I'm working!"|
However, the greatest disappointment has been the damage to the local produce. One of my favorite activities is picking berries and fruit during the summer months. However, due to the incredibly slow warm-up from the winter months experienced this year combined with the heavy amounts of rainfall, many of the crops were destroyed and picking was not an option. Strawberry season was incredibly short-lived and we missed the only opportunity to visit the fields because we were out of town. Peaches, cherries, and nectarines are all abysmally low in production. And finally the blueberries - my favorite summer berry to pick - will be available in limited quantities as well. My heart is broken!
However, we still will just have to make use with what we have available - which is still plenty more than the majority of the world!
My grocery highlight this week - snagging a precious little basil plant for 49 cents! I used it to make this fantastic pasta salad with grape tomatoes and smoked gouda. Oh my, this was fabulous. I love pasta salads and would readily eat just a big plateful as my dinner and feel perfectly satisfied. In fact, I tried to pass this off as a main dish but my carnivore husband insisted on serving some brats alongside. Good thing he did too, because our children were a bit picky about it. Matthew picked out the tomatoes but wouldn't touch the pasta. Emma ate the pasta but fed her tomatoes to Matthew.
It's a super simple fancy - no real frills or fancy foods in it. It's just pasta mixed with tomatoes, gouda cheese, basil, and a simple dressing made up of mayo and adobo sauce. The adobo sauce is honestly what makes the dish. The smoky flavor is a great complement to the cheese and tomatoes. The basil adds a nice herbaceous flavor that both freshens and rounds out the dish. A great salad that can be a main dish (if you're an herbivore) or a perfect picnic side dish (if you're a carnivore and need to eat something with a bone attached). The leftovers are great too. In fact, that's what I'm munching on as I type this out. So good.
Spicy Pasta Salad with Smoked Gouda, Tomatoes, and Basil
adapted slightly from the Pioneer Woman
12 ounces penne pasta
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used light)
1/4 cup whole milk
4 Tablespoons Cider Vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons Adobo Sauce from a can of Chipotle Peppers (I upped this a bit)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper to taste
2 pounds grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/2 pound smoked Gouda, shredded
24 whole Basil Leaves, chiffonade
Cook pasta in four quarts of boiling water with 1 tablespoon of table salt until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water until no longer hot.
Mix mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, salt, pepper, and adobo in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, stir together pasta, dressing, halved tomatoes, and Gouda. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if needed (it definitely needed some). I also added another tablespoon of vinegar because I love it. Stir in basil at the end. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.