We have a friend in Andorra who has a garden on his balcony. Not just a few pots but an actual garden. He hauls dirt in. He has grown a few stalks of sweet corn, grapes, berries, cucumbers, lots of tomatoes and basil.
I was never particularly comfortable about going out on his balcony to admire his produce. I feared that any additional weight at all would have the whole thing snapping off the building and plunging 1000 meters or so into the valley below. Andorra is not a place for people suffering from vertigo. It was a straight drop. But, as he so often pointed out, we would all land on the cemetery, (known as the ‘filing cabinet’) so it would be economical funerals. (The ‘filing cabinet’ , nicknamed because in such a mountainous country there is no land to spare for burial plots. The dead are interred in drawers cut into the side of the mountain for 10 years. You can buy another 10 but most people don’t… it’s a case of ‘dust to dust’, recycling, as it were)
Back to the point: One year he was debating if he shouldn’t switch to snail farming. A small army of the slowing moving chomping machines had found it’s way to his aerie garden and were systematically working their way through it. Not finding a lucrative market to sell said snails (everyone having enough of their own) he set about getting rid of them. Each evening he would wander out to his balcony, beer in hand, and pitch the tiny creatures off. Snail Flying!
Cruel, maybe; but, if you’ve ever had an entire bed of beautiful basil seedlings disappear overnight, you would also see it as very satisfying.
I only pitch my snails across the road.
They love basil and seem to be able to find it from great distances. They don’t bother the big plants. Once a seedling gets above 3″ in height (7 cm) they leave it alone. But until that time it requires great vigilance to protect them (the basil, not the snails). As slow moving as they are, (the snails, not the basil) they can still do a lot of damage in a very short period of time.
What does all this have to do with pasta?
It’s summer. What can be better than a lovely pasta salad with fresh, garden ripened tomatoes? With the tomatoes one should really have a nice Mozzarella di Bufala which wouldn’t be at all good without some just-picked basil leaves which I can’t have unless I send all of my snails flying across the road! There, you thought I couldn’t tie it all together, didn’t you?
Caprese Pasta Salad with Salami
3 – 4 oz salami (100gr)
1 package (ball) mozzarella di Bufala
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
2 stalks celery
Fresh basil – about 1/2 cup of leaves
1 1/4 cups pasta (8oz) – the small kind – farfalle, shells, etc.
1 tbs good olive oil
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with olive oil. Slice salami in quarters. Thinly slice celery. Cut tomatoes in half. Slice mozzarella, then cut into 1/2″ (1.25cm) cubes. Tear large basil leaves, leave small ones whole. Make vinaigrette. Add vinaigrette to pasta and toss to combine. Add tomatoes, celery, mozzarella and salami to pasta and toss lightly. Top with basil leaves and serve.
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbs Balsamic vinegar
3 tbs olive oil
Mix mustard and vinegar. Drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly.
Why the salami? I was hungry for it, I had some, why not?
This is my entry for Ruth’s (of Once Upon A Feast) Presto Pasta Night! Please check her blog on Friday for a recap of all of the delicious pasta dishes.
Now I’m off to Germany for a few days (just barely over the border, actually) so there will be blog silence until Thursday….or Friday….