WRITTEN ON August 26th, 2010 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Uncategorized

The result of my weeding and “landscaping” adventures last week was a case of seriously disgusting poison ivy. I’ve been nursing it all week. Basically I feel like something out of a horror film (hubster thinks I’m being dramatic.  Me? Dramatic? I can’t tell you how much it wounds me to hear you say that).  Yet despite the night sweats, the itchy-creepy-crawlies, the rage at being powerless against the poisonous beast (ok, maybe I am a little dramatic), I think I’m hooked on the whole gardening thing.

This week I tackled the front of the house. I decided to plant a butterfly garden. My new BFF, Shannon, from Hicks Nursery in Westbury, sent me packing with a car load full of 50% off perennials  guaranteed to attract all sorts of winged creatures (we’ll see how well they do, and if Shannon is still my new BFF come next summer), a crepe myrtle tree, and a butterfly bush.  But before I could plant any of these Monarch-attracting beauties, I had to remove a whole load of juniper (a mean, hateful little plant, if you ask me), tons of pachysandra, and some very well established iris which weirded me out all throughout June (does anyone else think that flowering iris is oddly indecent? It’s a sleazy type of flower, nothing subtle about it.  Kind of like Rachel Uchitel).

I donned my post-poison ivy plant removal outfit and got to work.  Clad in gloves, long sleeves, jeans, and hiking shoes with socks pulled up to my knees, I dug and ripped, wrestled and clipped my way to an empty front walkway. Six hours later, pouring with sweat and slightly faint, I had a blank canvas and a lot of leftover dirt (what does one do with all the leftover soil, pray tell? I keep sprinkling it under other bushes, hoping people won’t see it.  Sounds oddly like my coping mechanisms).

This left me with little hands on time to actually make dinner, and it also left me ravenous.  Quite a conundrum. Then I remembered that it’s tomato season. I turned the oven up, halved a bunch of local plum tomatoes, tossed them with some garlic, cubed pancetta and onions, and set them to roast while I went to soak.  Thirty minutes later, fresh from my oatmeal bath, all that was left for me to do was run an immersion blender through the fragrant tomatoes, throw in some basil (from my very own pot, yippee!) and toss the sauce with some fresh pasta. Simple, filling, and somehow hearty and summery all at once. If I knew this was the pot of gold at the end of all that digging, I might have worked a little faster.  Awww, who am I kidding.  Not a chance.

Dinner in a flash

Simple Summer Tomato Sauce
10 local plum tomatoes, halved
3 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
1/2 medium sized onion, cut into 6 wedges
1 good drizzle olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 lb pancetta, cut in medium dice
Your favorite fresh pasta, cooked (I like linguine or spaghetti)
Preheat oven to 400.  Toss together tomatoes, garlic, onions, olive oil, pancetta, salt and pepper and place in an oven proof dish. Roast in oven about 30-40 minutes until veggies are soft and caramelized. Remove pancetta pieces, reserve. In a large bowl, blend tomatoes, onions and garlic until smooth. Check for seasoning. Add pancetta back to sauce, toss with hot cooked pasta.  Top with torn fresh basil.

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