This summer I am working at a youth center with an incredible and bountiful rooftop garden. Every Friday afternoon, there is a group of teenagers at the center who run a Harvest Table: an outdoor market where they sell the beautiful fruits, vegetables, and herbs they have been growing throughout the summer. I am always amazed to see the great variety of produce they have and, furthermore, the low prices they offer. This past Friday was the last Harvest Table of the summer, and although I only had a few coins in my wallet, I was able to scrape $1.75 together to purchase some unique items I had never cooked with before: pattypan (or “spaceship”) squash and Sun Gold cherry tomatoes.
Although I had plans to experiment with a new recipe, I found myself hankering for an old summer favorite that I had not yet made all season: orzo with roasted vegetables, cherry tomatoes, lemon, and basil. My sister and I have made countless versions of this recipe over the course of many summers, following a basic formula. Simply roast your favorite vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, squash are all great candidates), toss them with hot pasta, lemon zest and juice, fresh basil, and cherry tomatoes. Sometimes we add spinach, letting it wilt with the heat of the orzo. Oftentimes we add toasted pine nuts and feta. If you’re looking to make this a heartier dish—as I was tonight—a can of beans or some roasted chicken helps add some bulk.
So, how did my Harvest Table purchases fare? The pattypan squash was quite interesting in both texture and flavor—midway between the clean crunch of a zucchini and the sweet starchiness of a butternut squash. The Sun Gold tomatoes were like little orange candies, adding a pop of brightness to the dish. I am happy to support the teens who run this amazing Harvest Table and to add new, locally-grown produce to this time-honored summer classic.
Orzo with Roasted Vegetables, Sun Gold Tomatoes, Basil & Lemon
1 pattypan squash
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup orzo (uncooked)
4 cups fresh spinach
1 cup Sun Gold tomatoes, halved
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
Handful fresh basil, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425. Dice squash into small pieces. Cut onion in medium thick slices. Toss squash and onion with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet and roast for about an hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until squash is tender.
While vegetables are roasting, cook orzo until al dente.
Chop spinach and place it at the bottom of a large bowl. Place drained orzo on top of spinach and allow it to sit on top for about 5 minutes, so that the hot orzo wilts the spinach. Once vegetables are roasted, add them to the orzo and spinach mixture along with tomatoes, basil, zest and juice of 1 lemon, garbanzo beans, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or cold.