Finding Community Through Food

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Food for me has always been synonymous with community and relationship building. Is there anything more intimate than breaking bread and sharing a meal? It’s why we prioritize family dinners and friend brunches: magic happens over a shared meal. As I wrote about earlier, food is inherently political, but it’s also personal (which makes sense, as the personal is the political as one of my fav feminist theory says). But more than that, food is deeply nostalgic for me. 

And what better time to be nostalgic than at the end of summer? This is the time when the air smells like the faint memory of salty air and fried dough. The days are getting shorter and there’s a hazy, perpetually golden glow of the evenings that brings about feelings of summer mornings and crisp autumn sunsets. The air crackles with the possibility of the newness to come and the reminders of magic realm summers exist in, even for adults. 

Just like how these transition seasons bring about such feelings, food for me does the same. There are some recipes I love for the sheer creativity and show-stopping factors, but for the most part, my favorite recipes are the least photogenic and the least impressive. I love them because of the way they can instantly transport me to some of my favorite places and times. 

So let’s rewind to one of my favorite summers ever with this not-so-pretty-but-totally-delicious tempeh pesto pasta. This blog is (partially) about finding the things that make your soul sing, and for me, that’s being as close to the earth as humanly possible. For an entire summer, I did just that by volunteering on a farm in Rehoboth, MA doing a mixture of permaculture farming and goat tending. But the best memories I made on the farm taste like zucchini. As any CSA member or Farmers Market customer knows, September marks the harvest season for all types of summer squash. Are all of your CSA baskets overflowing right now?? If so, good. Keep reading. 

We spent as much time in the kitchen figuring out how to eat all the zucchini as we did gleaning it from the fields, and it was in the kitchen that these friendships were made. Each week new volunteers would come to the farm and each week we ended the harvest with a community lunch. It was over our shared meal that we connected over our passion for the earth and our passion for food. Food is THAT powerful.  

So finally, here’s my quick hot take on summer squash: it’s the queen of all summer vegetables. It can be turned into a stir-fry, it can be made into a french fry, and you can go sweet or savory. With the possibilities being endless, there really is no such thing as *too much* zucchini. Sneak it into all meals this month, and I invite you to start making memories with this one. Who are you sharing this with? 

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Summer Harvest Pasta

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 box of whole wheat pasta (Trader Joe’s red lentil pasta is also great)
2 tbsp olive oil
½ red onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 green zucchini, cubed
1 yellow summer squash, cubed
1-2 patty pan squash
1 block of tempeh

For the Pesto:
1 large bunch of basil (or cilantro, or lemon balm depending on preference)
¼ cup olive oil
½ avocado
1 tbsp of walnuts or pine nuts
2 whole cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Water to thin as needed

Place water in a large pot on stovetop, and once boiling, add the pasta. Cook the pasta according to instructions on the box.

While the water is boiling, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic, onion, zucchini, squash, and tempeh to the pan and saute until veggies are tender and fragrant. Salt and pepper to taste. 

For the pesto, place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy, adding more olive oil or water if the pesto is too thick. 

Add the pasta and the pesto sauce to the pan with the vegetables and stir together, cooking for another two minutes until all of the flavors are incorporated together.

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