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Can you believe it’s already June? June! How does a month like June so slyly sneak up on us? Every year offers the same number of days between seasons, yet without fail, we find ourselves asking, “Can you believe it’s already…December? May? June?” Some years feel as if we’ve spent the entire twelve months in the fast lane of life, catching blurred glimpses as moments pass by. Others are packed with experiences that could span a lifetime. Whichever the year, we are consistently surprised by the arrival of each new season.
As I prepare this deliciously raw, plant-hearty pasta, I’m caught reminiscing of last summer. The aroma of freshly chopped tomatoes and oregano takes me back to what I can hardly fathom was a full year ago, living in a dream: working, exploring, and eating my way through Italy. Last June was unlike any other, and the start of a quintessential “fast-lane year.” I’d recently graduated from NTI’s Natural Food Chef Program, (one of my most treasured life experiences even after months adventuring in Europe), and was embarking on a somewhat spontaneous, open-ended trip abroad. It was a trip full of not only pasta, but invaluable lessons learned while trekking through cities and countrysides in the worst pair of walking sandals one could ever be foolish enough to wear on a trip such as this. …And yet here I am, at the forefront of another June in a strikingly different adventure of which is, arguably, just as unpredictable as travel: purchasing a house. This time, however, I am in a far less exotic setting…central Indiana.
Yes, I’m confident these are the most contrasting, consecutive Junes I’ve lived through…spending weeks in a 500-year-old estate on a 350-acre-farm at the foothills of Mt. Etna…to now living in my childhood home. You can imagine just how different these seasons have felt and how I may long for days spent building a bamboo roof under the Tuscan sun. It’s true, I miss many aspects of my temporary Italian life. I have found, however, the heat of this June feels much more manageable without copious amounts of pasta.
Although Italians love their pasta, they eat far less than Americans do when visiting Italy…especially in the hot summer months. Instead, it’s quite common for Italians to beat the heat with salads and dishes prepared fresh from the garden. This delightful marinara sauce over raw zucchini noodles is a gardener’s dream a perfect way to keep cool this summer.
It will leave you feeling light and refreshed on a hot summer day. Comprised of what I see as two chief principles in sustainable healthy eating, (plenty of seasonal vegetables and incredibly easy to prepare), this is a top-notch recipe in my book. There are, essentially, 4 steps to creating this healthy summer meal. Anyone can make this. YOU can make this. And if I may be so bold, I believe you WANT to make this. Not to mention, if you haven’t had the good fortune of spiralizing a zucchini, you’ve missed out on a real treat. It’s also an ideal task for a pint-sized helper, if you happen to have one of those hanging around in your kitchen. Now, time to put those backyard tomatoes and zucchinis to good use and embrace a new way of summer pasta eating! But first, I must urge you to take caution. Your fork will have a mind of its own, unabashedly twirling and diving into each bite!
Why we love it:
- Lycopene, a phytonutrient found in tomatoes, has well-researched beneficial effects when it comes to stalling cancerous tumor growth. Also known to fight free radical damage and thus protect the heart against oxidative stress. Better yet, the lycopene in tomatoes is more bioavailable when cooked.
- Himalayan sea salt is one of the purest salts you can find, containing over 84 minerals and trace elements, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and iron.
- Oregano is an herb that is a member of the mint family and has been used for healing for thousands of years. Oregano has the power to reduce inflammation, fight bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic infections, fight allergies and even shrink tumors. Oil of oregano is extracted from the herb to make a powerful antibiotic agent that can kill many species of harmful bacteria.
- Marjoram is a perennial herb which is also a member of the mint family. It is sometimes called oregano’s cousin and can be exchanged in many recipes. Marjoram has a more floral, sweet taste compared with oregano.
- Studies have shown that marjoram can provide health benefits for people suffering from hormonal imbalances, diabetes, ulcers and digestive complaints.
Summer Marinara Sauce
- 8 oz. jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil (drain)
- 3 c. fresh tomatoes- chopped
- 1 c. carrots- grated
- 2 T. fresh oregano, marjoram or basil
- 2 T. soy sauce
- 1 T. fresh rosemary- minced
- 2 t. fresh thyme
- 3 cloves of garlic
- In a food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
- Serve the sauce at room temperature or warmed; it’s delicious on zucchini spaghetti!
Raw Zucchini Noodles
- 6 small zucchinis (one per person)
- Using a spiralizer, cut zucchini into “spaghetti” noodles. Salt lightly and set aside for 30 minutes in a colander on a plate.
- Serve with marinara sauce.
Recipe by Chef Lynda Lacher
Take a look at the Chilled Poblano and Cilantro Soup or the Vegetarian Antipasto Salad for some other great summer recipes. You can also download your copy of the NTI Eats Summer Recipe ebook to get a copy of this and other great summer recipes all in one place!
Chef Kylee Snyder is a recent graduate of NTI’s Natural Food Chef Program. She currently leads nutritional cooking classes and provides holistic health coaching that has been known to cause deep affection towards vegetables. Find her on Instagram @rendezfoodhhc.
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