Late Summer Veggie Pasta & Our New Favorite Tomato Sauce
So I know Labor Day just happened, and everyone’s acting like now it’s time to start shitposting PSL lovers and doing spoopy makeup looks, or however they personally mark the transition from Hot Girl Summer to Christian Girl Autumn. Cool, whatever, get your scarves and beanies ready if you want to (and maybe stash some money away for the next Probably This Collection dropping in October). I’m holding on to dear summer as long as I can. I love the heat! I hear “climate crisis” and I think “okay, it could be hotter!”
(That’s a joke please don’t send me hate mail.)
So I’m fully embracing this Late Summer thing, and what I love most about late summer is that every single food blogger just starts pumping out recipes with “Late Summer” in the title — our own Late Summer Panzanella from last week, or this Late Summer Vegetable Bolognese from Half Baked Harvest, for instance.
I’m fully here for it. Late Summer. It sounds fancy, and weirdly romantic. The super ripe tomatoes, flowing linen clothing, and warm days that transition to perfect evenings. It’s very Mediterranean. Or, more specifically, it makes me feel like a Dianne Keaton character who’s retired to an Italian villa. I’m looking out the window over the rolling yellow hills, slicing tomatoes and crushing basil. I had a successful and ruthless law career in New York. Dumped a reckless playboy named Nathan back in our late 20s so I could focus on my career. Now at 65, I’m tucking myself away in Europe to discover the simple joys in life like gourmet olives and endless Montepulciano wine, to learn to make various rustic local recipes. All of a sudden, who should ride his motorbike right up to my villa, but that long ago scorned ex-lover of mine, Nathan! I write and star as Diane Keaton, and Chris Hemsworth plays Nathan. Netflix, call me.
Anyway, you’re here about food. This pasta recipe is yummy and simple. Did you know that it’s so easy to make your own tomato-based pasta sauce from fresh tomatoes? Folks will tell you tomato paste is the only way to go, but when they tell you that you can tell them that Matt from Probably This says no, it’s not the only way to go. Ever since reading this Epicurious article about the joys of grating tomatoes, I’ve been obsessed with making a pasta with freshly grated tomato purée sauce, and you know fam I think I’ve got it about right. Now all you gotta do is make the sauce, sauté a couple veggies, and slap it together.
Late Summer Veggie Pasta
takes 1 hour, serves 2-4
2-3 medium to large heirloom tomatoes (should be about 3 cups when grated)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh mint, minced
1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced (see notes)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil + more for pan (about 2 tablespoons)
juice of 1 lemon + lemon for garnish
3 cups Brussels sprouts, halved (see notes)
2-3 portobello mushrooms, sliced
1x 8 oz. pack of spaghetti of your choice, prepared according to package instructions and set aside
1/3 cup ricotta for topping
1/4 cup pecans, crushed
salt, pepper, and chilli flake to taste
Begin by grating the tomatoes into a mixing bowl using the large-hole side of a box grater (see notes). You should have approximately 3 cups of grated tomato when finished—and it’ll be quite liquidy. Add garlic, herbs, and 1/2 cup olive oil to mixing bowl. Salt and pepper to taste, then whisk to combine.
Transfer mixture to sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Let boil 7 minutes, whisking occasionally to prevent burning. Remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice. Set aside.
In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. When oil is heated, add Brussels sprouts to skillet, cut-side down. Sauté 8 minutes, then flip. Sauté another 5 minutes. Transfer sprouts to a bowl and set aside.
Heat remaining tablespoon olive oil (you can use the same skillet) over medium-high heat. When oil is heated, add portobello mushroom slices. Sauté 3-5 minutes on either side, until mushrooms are dark and softened.
Toss sautéed mushrooms and Brussels sprouts together with cooked pasta and add sauce. Mix to combine. Top with dollops of ricotta about 1/2 tablespoon each. Sprinkle with crushed pecans and red pepper flakes as desired. I’d also recommend an extra squeeze of lemon here to finish it off!
regarding herbs: I’ve got an herb garden with all of these herbs (#humblebrag) but this herb section can definitely be flexible if you don’t have access to all of them—for example, fresh oregano can be hard to come by in stores near me, and I wouldn’t recommend substituting the dried stuff as it’s a much more potent flavor. The only one I for sure wouldn’t skip here is the basil!
regarding Brussels sprouts: we’re cooking these babies solely in the pan, which means it’s best to use the smallest sprouts you can find. Once you cut the sprouts in half, peel off the rougher outer leaves before cooking.
regarding grating tomatoes: I’m just obsessed with this method right now because it feels like something a real Italian nonna would do, and I like a chunkier purée texture. If you don’t have the time or interest to deal with grating the tomatoes, feel free to just remove the stems and pulse them in a blender.