We used to have dinner at casa di Nonni more often than not during the summer months. Mondays were pizza, Thursdays were hamburgers with crispy potatoes, and Tuesdays or Wednesdays were Spaghetti Beans. The epitome of a simple Sicilian dinner, Nonna would sauté home grown long beans, fresh tomatoes and garlic with a bit of extra virgin olive oil until slightly soft, and then she would toss this simple sauce with al dente spaghetti. If it wasn’t too hot out we would eat on the patio while the sun went down, savoring the sweet tang of the fresh tomatoes and the soft snap of the freshest green beans I have ever eaten.
This recipe is a variation on my childhood Spaghetti Beans, but since there are no long beans at Farmers Market just yet I swapped out sweet and crisp sugar snap peas and it worked out beautifully. Because I made this on one of our recent 90+ degree days it was too hot for us to enjoy our dinner on our fire escape overlooking 2nd Ave, but the fresh garlic and tomatoes still tasted of my most luscious summer memories on the patio.
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves fresh garlic
1 large scallion
3/4 lb sugar snap peas
1 quart of fresh tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes, but you can use any tomatoes that look the best at Farmers Market)
1 8oz box spaghetti (I used Organic Quinoa Spaghetti from Ancient Harvest)
1/8-1/4 cup to Parmesan cheese
1 handful of fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
Once you have picked handfuls of plum and crisp sugar snap peas (I got mine at the Migliorelli Farm Stand at the 125th St Famers Market (at Adam Clayton Powell Blvd). When you get them home, be sure that you trim them properly. Since sugar snap peas are meant to be eaten whole, the point of trimming them is to get the rough parts out of the way so you can enjoy their tender shells and juicy peas. To do this, grab each pea pod individually and be sure that the inside curve faces your body. Using your fingers or a paring knife snap or cut the top of the pod pulling off the rough seam of the pod that runs the full length of the inside.
Gather and thoroughly wash all of your fresh ingredients. (I place special importance on the washing step because if you got all of your ingredients from either your CSA or Farmers Market like I did, there will be dirt. Lots of dirt.)
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan on medium-low heat. Once oil is hot add garlic slices and let cook without stirring for 3-4 minutes, until garlic is very fragrant but not carmelized or burned. Add scallions and stir, let cook for another 3-4 minutes until mostly soft. Meanwhile, you can also drop your spaghetti into your boiling pasta water and cook until al dente (according to package instructions).
Drain spaghetti of all water except for about an 1/8 cup. In the large sauce pot combine spaghetti, torn basil leaves, fresh sauce and grated Parmesan cheese. Toss until well combined and add more cheese to taste.