The one where I gush about Martha

Snoop Dogg baking brownies with Martha. photo courtesy of

I love Martha Stewart. Honestly, I have loved her ever since I was in high school, you know, back in the day when she did every show from her actual house and before she had street cred. That’s what happens when you spend time in prison, you become instantly cooler and rappers want to bake brownies with you. So, I loved her even before her cool factor shot through the roof, that makes me a true fan, right? Anyway, Martha (yes we are on a first name bases, at least we would be if we ever actually met in person) has always spoken to my type A personality, my inner monster’s need for perfection, and my always present want (need?) to be crafty, in one way or another, everyday. She’s who sparked my interest to bake my own bread (I started experimenting making bread when I was a teenager, long before I had any idea that I would be making bread to feed both my family and to make a political statement about the state of our country’s food systems) and she was also the one who got me into collecting vintage dishes and bakeware, which may be considered more of an addiction than a hobby, depending on who you ask around here. I guess, in a sense, she’s the one who started me on this path toward self-sufficiency. Who would have thought?

My cooking experiences have not always turned out stellar. There have been a lot of bumps and wrong turns on that road, especially early on, but with practice and time, things have got much better. Yes, the deck most defiantly got stacked in my favor the day I married, a professionally trained, cook who was willing to teach me a few new tricks! Martha’s recipes, however, always turned out great, even in the early days. When my mom came upon this recipe in an issue of last summers Martha Stewart Living I knew I had to make it and I knew it would only be more delicious using homegrown heirloom tomatoes and fresh-cut basil from the herb garden. It’s also a great summertime meal because it only heats up the kitchen when boiling the water for the pasta and comes together quickly for those nights that we linger outside, a little too long, not realizing that dinner should already be on the table. At least, not until after one of us (usually PJ, my Dad or myself-oh no, our family resemblance is showing, again), is on the verge of a low blood sugar induced meltdown of nuclear proportions.

Macaroni with Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes– adapted from Martha Stewart Living, August 2011

Some heirloom cherry tomatoes-red, sun gold and black. The pottery bowl was a handmade gift from Kevin.

7-8 cloves of garlic, sliced thin

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 lbs of heirloom tomatoes* cut into bite size pieces.

3/4 cup torn, fresh basil

3 tablespoons of salt packed capers

zest of 2 medium lemons

1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

sea salt and fresh ground pepper

1 1/2 lbs of bow ties, or another flat pasta.

*I used heirloom cherry and pear tomatoes because that is what is ripe, in our garden, right now but you could use any heirloom, even large slicers, just cut them it into the correct size.

 In a small sauce pan heat sliced garlic and 1/2 Cup of oil on low heat until garlic becomes golden-colored. Remove from heat, set aside and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl with a lid, mix tomatoes, 1/4 cup of basil, capers, zest of one lemon, red pepper flakes and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Pour garlic and oil over mixture, affix lid and toss. Let sit on counter for about thirty minutes tossing occasionally.

For this meal I used store-bought, organic, dried pasta. It would be even more tasty with homemade fresh macaroni but then it would no long fit under the heading of  one of my, “I haven’t left enough time to get dinner made-before everyone starts complaining-oh crap what am I going to make fast so no one flips out” meals.

Once paste is al dente, drain, give a quick rinse with cool water to prevent sticking and place in a large serving bowl. Now, here is where Martha and I differ, I know, shocking. Right? Instead of adding 2 cups of cooking water to the pasta, I drizzle ~1/4 cup of olive oil and give a quick stir. I find that my homegrown tomatoes tend to be more juicy than their store-bought counterparts and when mixed with the extra cooking water, make the dish soupy. Stir in tomato mixture, salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with remaining torn basil and garish with the zest of second lemon.

It tastes even better than it looks, I promise!

What recipes have you been cooking up using the summer’s offerings?

2 thoughts on “The one where I gush about Martha

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