Have you ever cooked during a power outage? That’s how this meal came together. At first I thought that the entire dish could be made easily without electricity, and then I had a brief panic remembering that the pesto needed a machine. But wait. Pesto does’t need a food processor. I recalled the old world method by hand, with a mezzaluna to coarsely chop the herbs and the garlic and the pine nuts. Duh. This is how we used to cook.
I brought my veggies and herbs and cutting board and knife outside, to sit in the sun and chop away. What started as a mild conundrum evolved into summer simplicity at its best.
That Friday evening, fighting summer weekend traffic to get out of town, I fretted that my life felt too busy, too stressed, to sit inside the slower pace and leisure that I so deeply crave in summer. I was kind of angry at everything: the traffic, the demands of so much work, how busy my life felt. But I dutifully pushed on, racing to a slow weekend.
I had signed up for Nicole’s Social Media Cleanse, which called for 48 hours off social media. Not gonna lie, it was hard to commit to, but I really wanted to follow through on this one. I let my own disappointment in the prospect of failing force me to abide by this. And I didn’t touch Facebook, Instagram, or Gmail the entire time. There is something really liberating in deleting apps from your phone temporarily. And while imperfect, it provided the presence that I so craved. Presence is really what we are missing with the ubiquity of our phones. Presence is what I am obsessed with. It’s what I feel when I hike, when I cook without my phone open, when I practice yoga, or linger over a long meal with friends, or when I find the willpower to do anything without the internet lurking in the background. And I felt it when I was slicing long tendrils of summer squash into noodles for this dish.
Now it’s another work week, but I have the memory of a slow weekend to push me forward. And maybe, another pause from social media in order to find a little bit of presence.
SUMMER SQUASH PASTA WITH PESTO AND CHICKPEAS
I love making noodles with summer squash. This dish epitomizes summer. I opted for a mix of parsley and basil and no Parmesan for a lighter pesto, preferring instead to finish the dish with some tangy Feta. I could add chickpeas to almost any dish where they’d get along with the other ingredients, and this is no exception. Have you heard about the Half Cup Habit? It’s all about finding easy ways to add a half-cup serving of pulses to our everyday meals.
1 cup torn basil leaves
1 small bunch parsley, stems removed, coarsely chopped
1/4-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 large or 4 small garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for cooking
1 16-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and well-drained
4 medium-large summer squash
Cherry tomatoes, halved, for serving
Feta cheese, crumbled, for serving
Red pepper flakes, optional
Cracked black pepper, for serving
First, make the pesto. In a food processor (or by hand!), combine the basil, parsley, sea salt (adjust to taste), garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil. Add more olive oil if needed, along with salt. Set aside.
Prep the squash. Use a veggie noodle maker if you have one, OR a simple vegetable peeler, shave the squash lengthwise to create long noodles. Place the noodles in an ice bath to keep fresh and set aside.
Next, prep the chickpeas by drying them in a dish towel. You want them really dry to get them a little crispy! In a large skillet over medium heat, add a little olive oil. Toss in the well-dried chickpeas, and stir. Saute the chickpeas until they are golden and crisped, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.
Drain the noodles and dry them in a dish towel. In the same pan, add a little more olive soil. Depending on the size of the pan, you may need to work in two batches. Saute until just soft, about 2-4 minutes. Remove from heat, draining any excess liquid.
In a large bowl, toss the squash noodles with the pesto. Gently fold in the chickpeas. Divide among plates, and top with Feta cheese and cherry tomatoes. Finish with red pepper flakes if desired. Best served immediately.
This post was sponsored by USA Pulses and Pulse Canada. Pulses are the delicious, protein-packed, sustainable foods known as dry peas, chickpeas, lentils and beans. All thoughts and content are my own. Partnerships like these sustain me as a small business!