I couldn’t get it off my mind. All my life I had heard my mother and others of her generation speak of victory gardens, ration books, meatless meals, and shortages during the World War II years. My mother even worked as a ration-board clerk. As I grew up, stories of how the American cook had to stretch the food supply and be ingenious in the kitchen were legendary.
Just a few days back Hubby and I were on a vacation tour to Pearl Harbor in Honolulu. In the gift shop was the book, Cooking on the Home Front: Favorite Recipes of the World War II Years, by Hugh and Judy Gowan. Someone actually had put on paper a collection of those penny-pinching recipes that my mother and those who lived through those times mentioned.
All during my trip through the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Missouri, the Bowfin Submarine, and other stops at the Pearl Harbor site, I thought about the cookbook. Then, at the very end of the tour, I returned to the gift shop, purchased it, and brought it home.
Here’s the first of those recipes for me to prepare. The topping of well-seasoned, diced cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes, and fresh parsley was so delicious, no one thought about the absence of meat. This dish was good hot or cold. (We had it as leftovers the second day.) I remarked to Hubby that this kind of veggie pasta seemed more like a trendy dish that one would cook today than a meal that would have been common 70 years ago.
For a moment I caught a glimpse of how the homemaker of my mother’s era felt she was part of the pull-together effort that the Pearl Harbor museum described.
Cucumbers with Pasta
1 pound cucumbers
1/2 cup chopped red onions
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
1-1/2 pounds tomatoes
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
grated Parmesan cheese (I used shaved Parmesan)
Peel and seed cucumbers. Dice the flesh into 1/4-inch pieces; toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute), 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, and a dash of pepper. Let set for 20 minutes; drain. Peel, seed, and dice tomatoes; combine with cucumbers, onions, garlic, herbs, and olive oil. Boil spaghetti in several quarts of water until done. Toss the hot spaghetti with the cucumber and tomatoes. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Makes 6 servings.