Peak Summer Flavors

Use up those ripe tomatoes without spending much time cooking.

By Kim Severson

It’s Kim, not Sam, lol. He’s on his annual sojourn to fish and chill but left strict instructions for us to continue working. Whatevs!

There will be some decidedly non-Sam things in here this week, but there will be a no-recipe recipe today. I call this Girlfriend Pasta because my girlfriend makes it for us all summer. You could call it Partner Pasta, depending on your gender identity and relationship configurations.

The point is to use up a lot of those nice, ripe summer tomatoes without spending much time cooking. Before you want to eat, a half-hour or even half a day, cut some sungolds and those heirlooms whose names you can’t remember into reasonably sized chunks. Put them into a nice ceramic bowl that you’ll use to serve the pasta, add salt and pepper with some generosity, and let them sit for at least 10 minutes. Pour in some good olive oil. You’ll want maybe a third of a cup. That’s your sauce.

Set some spaghetti to boil in water so salty it tastes like the sea (I stole that from someone!). You can use any pasta, of course. This is America. Next, throw some slivers of red onion into a little bath of ice, water and salt. Tear fresh basil and set out a good handful of arugula. Use a vegetable peeler to make long strips of a semihard cheese with some character, like manchego.

Drain the pasta and toss it with a little more olive oil or butter if the tomatoes are bland. Introduce the tomatoes, toss again and add in the rest. Give it one more gentle toss, and don’t forget a lot of black pepper, grated Parmesan or a shake of red-pepper flakes.

The pro tip here is to pay attention to the details, which really matter with super simple dishes like this.

But we have actual recipes, too. In the spirit of using all that summer fruit I bought, and because we’re already back to school where I live, our house has been spinning up some smoothies from this mighty collection.

After one of those for breakfast, I would roll right into lunch with this extra-crispy BLT (above) from Ali Slagle, who gives us a lesson in the importance of sandwich architecture.

If it seems like I’m in a rush to eat as much summer fruit as I can, it’s because I am. This watermelon, avocado and radish salad from Lidey Heuck is a great study in contrasts, both texture and taste.

I would eat it alongside pork chops with salted plums, or this truly inspired grilled chicken with corn and okra from Kay Chun. It’s sparked up with tartar butter! It only takes about 20 minutes! I’ll stop with exclamation points!

I should have saved one last exclamation point for this ridiculously delicious coffee-praline crunch ice cream cake, which takes less than a half-hour to assemble but five hours to freeze, so plan ahead.

The flavors remind me of butter pecan ice cream, which my dad still eats with abandon even though he is pushing 90. (He also spent some years smoking Tareytons, so go figure.)

Anyway, if you want help with things that don’t involve parents or cigarettes but do involve navigating New York Times Cooking, write to [email protected] They really do answer all the emails. We’re on Instagram and YouTube and Twitter, where you’ll find me under the clever handle @kimseverson.

You can get a gazillion more recipes at New York Times Cooking if you subscribe, so consider throwing a few bucks in our basket every month. It’s how we do our work.

Last, if you subscribe to The New York Times itself, settle in for a special virtual event Thursday hosted by the smart and hilarious political reporter Astead Herndon, who will lead an all-star team discussing New York’s survival and its revival. The chef Marcus Samuelsson is one of the panelists, and I’m particularly interested to hear from Ginia Bellafante and Michael Kimmelman because they are two of our best writers on New York City.

I’ll be back here Friday.

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