Tomato Cappelini Pasta with Zucchini and Beans.

The Italian way to name this dish is “pasta e fagioli,” but I am so far from Italian, tomatoes get offended. That said, I do get along with many bright, veggie-filled Italian summer dishes in spite of my thick GermIrish heritage. This recipe is totally boring in the best way. It has few ingredients and lots of potential for additions. It’s filling and full of fiber but! leaves room for dessert later which is a must for this fat kid over here. It’s August; you still have plenty of time to throw this together with fresh local varieties of the listed ingredients. Go on, now! Get to it!

1/4 c onion, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced

4 Roma tomatoes, chopped

2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced

4 oz angel hair pasta

3 c boiling water

1 can cannellini beans, rinsed

Fresh basil, optional

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

In a large skillet, saute onions over medium-high heat in 2 tbsp olive oil until softened, about 4 minutes. Season lightly with salt. Add garlic and a pinch of salt; stir for 30 seconds. Toss in zucchini with another pinch of salt and stir to evenly distribute garlic and onion with the zucchini. When zucchini begins to barely soften and release moisture, add tomatoes and more salt and reduce heat to medium. Allow to simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove vegetables from pan and set them aside. In the same pan, pour in boiling water and 1/2 tsp salt. Add pasta and cook for 2 minutes or until noodles are fairly limp. Drain most of the water and add vegetables back into the pan; turn heat on high and allow pasta to finish cooking in the vegetable juices until it absorbs most of the liquid. Remove from heat and toss in beans. Top with basil, if desired.

Meatballs.

These are bona-fide carnivorous balls of meat. No lentils in the vicinity! I like them because they require the tiniest list of ingredients and pass my kids’/husband’s taste tests. I’ve used regular pork sausage but have settled on Italian turkey sausage because the one I buy has no nitrates. I think it’s simply a preference thing. So go bold! Go meatballs!

Meatballs:
1 lb sausage, casings removed (if necessary)
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Sauce:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c dry red wine
1 can tomato paste
2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
Salt to taste
2 lbs pasta

Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Set aside. Using your hands, combine sausage, ground beef, salt, crushed red pepper, and garlic powder in a large bowl until just combined. Do not overwork! Shape into 1-1 1/2″ balls. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot (I use my cast iron enamel dutch oven), heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place 1/3 of the batch of meatballs in oil and sear the outsides of them, turning so each side gets browned. Do not cook through. Remove meatballs from pot and repeat with remaining batches. Set meatballs aside. Toss onions and 1/4 tsp salt into oil and saute until wilted, about 4 minutes; add garlic and saute 1 minute. Pour in wine and scrape bottom of pot while wine reduces. Stir in tomato paste and toast it, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Pour in crushed tomatoes, dried oregano, pepper, and 1/2 tsp salt, stirring to combine. Gently place meatballs in sauce and bring to a high simmer; reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer 20-25 minutes, gently stirring occasionally, until meatballs are cooked through. Season to taste, if necessary. Serve with pasta.