Sayonara, Summer

Though a few days remain before it’s officially time to call it quits and pack up the beach gear, I think it’s safe to say that summer is on its way out. Stepping outside to grab the newspaper before dawn, before the sun has appeared and the neighborhood is still comfortably asleep, wrapped up tightly in warm blankets, that’s when the change is most noticeable. The chill in the air is almost tangible; such a marked change that it all but slaps you in the face, giving you no choice but to pay attention and take notice. Promises of the best holidays soon to come inspire me, along with anticipation of all those lovely autumn edibles- Pumpkins! Hearty stews! Homey Pies! But above all else, I hate to say it… This shift fills me with an inexplicable dread. More often than not, I can’t help but feel that fall marks and end more than it does a beginning.

Not so eager to relinquish my beloved tomatoes, watermelon, and corn, it’s a hard transition for me to make, and one that must be done slowly and gently. Seeking to minimize seasonal shock, going “cold turkey” just isn’t a reasonable approach. Switching out those summery flavors in favorite dishes, bit by bit, until they’re seasonally appropriate once more, this transitional period brings with it some curiously composed dishes. Take for example, the shiitake pesto.

While mushrooms are easily available all year round, fall just calls for fungus (of the culinary kind, please) with their earthy flavors and hearty, meaty textures. Plus, shiitake mushrooms especially make up for the loss of brighter fresher ingredients with a powerful dose of umami, the taste that everyone’s talking about and still can’t quite define. At this early stage in the game, I keep a reduced amount of basil in this simple sauce, but it would be easy enough to omit it in the dead of winter, or perhaps for a heartier leafy green plant, like kale.

Plus, pesto is one of those magical things that goes well with everything, so it’s not hard to dream up uses for it from summer to spring and everything in between. Continuing a slightly Asian-inspired theme, I choose to highlight it in a basic pasta dish with edamame, a quick and easy standby for busy days.  Armed with an arsenal of tasty standbys like this deeply satisfying and flavorful concoction, perhaps autumn won’t be so hard to accept after all.

Shiitake Pesto Pasta

Shiitake Pesto:

3.5 Ounces Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms
1/2 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves, Packed
1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
1 Tablespoon Barley Miso Paste
2 – 3 Cloves Garlic
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar
Salt and Pepper, to Taste


1 Pound Fettuccine, Linguine, or Spaghetti
2 Small Leeks, Cleaned, Trimmed, and Chopped
2 Cups Shelled Edamame

To make the pesto, simply toss all of the ingredients into your food processor or blender, and pulse until well-combined but not quite pureed. I like to leave mine a bit chunky to add some texture to the dish, but you’re welcome to keep processing it until smooth, too.

For the rest of the dish, cook the pasta as directed until al dente, and drain thoroughly. Toss with the chopped leeks, edamame, and prepared pesto. Dig in!

Serves 6 – 8

Printable Recipe


39 thoughts on “Sayonara, Summer

  1. I love love love fall! Its my favorite time of year, even though summer is my favorite time of year for food. I just love the smell in the air during fall, and the very slight chill. Your Shitake pasta looks gorgeous and so tasty. I loooove fungus!! haha

  2. I’m finding it impossible to go cold turkey also! But I like the idea of weaning myself the delights of summer. And this shiitake pesto seems like an ideal transition food.

  3. I saw that shiitake picture and did not even need to see who pasted it, I knew it was you! :) Your pictures have such character! If you have any photo tips for me I would love to hear them. I am always looking for a way to improve my pictures. :) Youre great!

  4. I am so glad Fall is on its way! I think I am more of a casserole/stew type of person, so that’s perfect for me.
    Your pasta looks beautiful, I love anything with shiitake.

  5. What a brilliant idea! I think the best way to cope with the change of the seasons is to keep creating and eating wonderful dishes like this, and to know that, before long, you’ll be the one in summer again and I’ll be the one moping about having frozen toes. Until then, though… ;)

  6. Your recipe looks awesome, as always – but that photo of the mushroom is just incredible! I love the position of the mushrooms in the background and the way you can see the reflection of the mushroom on the counter. Just gorgeous.

  7. That mushroom photo is spectacular! The recipe looks delish, also…I’m finding myself wanting vegetarian food more and more. I think that’s a good thing.

  8. Pesto totally is magical… it just makes everything taste that much better. I couldn’t agree more about the mushrooms… they’re definitely one of my fall staples, along with squash and sweet potatoes. I’ve never thought to include mushrooms in a pesto, but it sounds like a lovely idea!

  9. OMG Hannah, It seems like you were reading my min, Hope not :). I love good pasta with pesto. And was going through blog after blog to hunt down something different and where I can make use of my extra lager basil plant. Miso, garlic, mushrooms love it.

  10. Delicious idea; as usual! This is a great way to use up extra basil that’s taking over your yard..or maybe that’s just me with that “problem” :)

  11. It sounds delicious! Have you ever tried pesto with porcini mushrooms? I ate it once a week for a whole year. This sounds a bit similar…but the miso and shittake add some lovely Asian influences.

  12. I was somewhat estatic last week when my veggie box changed from salad to veggies, I am looking forward to some casseroles and I am not sorry to say goodbye to the celery!

    What a lovely recipe. I have some miso so shall be trying this one with my own twist on it!

  13. This post has me salivating! Looks wonderful…think I’m going to go saute some mushrooms right now. I also mourn the fading of summer produce, but Fall is beautiful too and I do love warming soups and stews, etc.
    Eco Mama

  14. A yes it is definitely the end of summer. Leaves are starting to fall and temperatures have dropped dramatically. I do love the autumn season as well as it brings a whole new range of different produce which I am going to enjoy!

  15. We still have hot days here, today 94 degrees, looking forward to cool things down.

    I love the idea of mushroom pesto, I had never thought of it before, but it is creative and pictures looks amazing. I have tried spinach and walnut pesto once and it has worked out really well.

  16. This looks delicious! I can never get enough of pesto OR mushrooms (or basil, for that matter), so I’m definitely going to give this one a try. :)

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