Autumn is my favourite season. Crops mature slowly and their full ripeness always reminds me of my favourite poem by Keats. ( see below for memory jolt ). The tomatoes have slowed down, only to be superseded in abundance by glossy eggplants, onions, and chillies. The zucchini persist, with ridiculously rude specimens hiding under leaves, slowing the flowering and fertility of the plants. Basil of all varieties perfume the pick. It’s time for a simple Pasta d’ Autunno.
Ingredients ( for two)
- extra virgin olive oil, large glugs as required
- two small red onions, chopped into large chunks
- two or more garlic cloves
- one long red chilli, roughly chopped
- one small zucchino, cut into small chunks
- two large tomatoes, ( 4 small ), as above
- two large handful of rugola ( rocket) leaves
- generous grinds of salt and pepper
- 200 grams of pasta ( 100 grams per person) I used a short pasta
- grated parmigiano, reggiano or grana padano
- Place a grill on the stove top, heat on high, adding a good slurp of oil
- grill the onions, remove, then grill the chilli pieces, remove, then the zucchini chunks.
- Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of oil, then the sliced garlic, followed by the chopped tomato. Cook until the tomato disintegrates, then reduce heat to simmer.
- Cook pasta in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente (as per packet instructions). Save a little pasta water.
- Add the grilled vegetables to the tomato mix, stir through, season well, then add a little pasta water to loosen.
Heat a large serving bowl. Add the rocket leaves, then the pasta, followed by vegetable mixture. Toss lightly. Then add some grated or shaved parmigiano.
And now for that Keats poem.
Ode To Autumn
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimmed their clammy cell.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir, the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.