over memorial day weekend, i attended a party on a rooftop that blew me away. and not just because it had a spiral staircase leading up to it, or because the apartment underneath it had massive skylights. nope, it was because there was a garden. built into a bench. that the guy had made with his own two hands. i mean, color me happy, there’s a sofa in here for two! (if you don’t get that reference, see here). and actually, there was seating for two – and then some – because the garden was planted on top of an L-shaped bench, which the guy had also built with his own two hands. swoon city.
so, tell me, oh rooftop man, how does your garden grow? the guy had butter lettuce. he had multiple herbs (basil, thyme, rosemary and more). he had large tomatoes. he had cherry tomatoes. he even had those adorable green striped tomatoes, which is what sparked this meal. as i sat up on that roof, sweating my ass off and praying that god would send rain, or a cold front, or even just a little bit of a breeze, i thought about tomatoes. heirlooom tomatoes, to be exact. those colorful little babies that are ultra adorable and make any boring pasta dish look fun and colorful and a little bit martha-esque.
anywho, this dish was a result of the above; i picked up a quart of baby heirloom tomatoes (with a few green striped ones in there!) and sautéed them with lemon zest, spring greens, a bit of olive oil and some salt and pepper, then tossed them with cubed fresh mozzarella. voila! a summer meal done right.
of course, the ultimate situation would have involved my picking the tomatoes with my own two hands from my very own rooftop garden, but we can’t have it all, now can we? i mean, it would be great if i made my own cheese and shaped my own motz balls, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
that being said – i really do want my own garden, and i’ve been trying to research rentable/purchasable garden plots here in the city, but whenever i google, all i can find are hugely long wait lists, or gardens that only have flowers, not veggies. would love suggestions on community gardens in NYC if anyone has them!
so, wanna make this ish yourself? you do, it’s yummy. and super fast.
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 box of fusili (or penne would do here as well)
1 quart baby heirloom tomatoes (i got mine at trader joe’s)
approximately two handfuls of greens – you could get yours at the farmer’s market, i got mine at TJ’s
2 tsp olive oil
about 8-10 oz of mozzarella (mine was a big ball, but you could buy shredded, or mini balls – whatever strikes your fancy).
to make, put a pot of salted water on to boil for your fusili. meanwhile, warm up a skillet with olive oil and throw in your diced garlic. cook a minute or two, until softened and slightly golden. now, throw in your tomatoes and saute for a few minutes, until slightly softened. put pasta into your boiling water and cook according to package directions.
once your tomatoes are softened, remove from heat and throw in the lemon zest and greens. stir.
drain your pasta and reserve a tiny bit of pasta water. toss tomatoes with pasta and douse in lemon juice. add your motz, toss again, until all ingredients are evenly distributed. if you need more cheese, add a bit of shredded parm or romano. you could also toss some fresh basil on there too if you wanted. i didn’t have any on hand, so i skipped that part.