Have I ever mentioned how happy summertime produce makes me? Well, all produce makes me happy, really, but there’s just something about summertime produce that instantly brings a smile to my face. The colors are so bright and vibrant, the textures crispier, crunchier and juicier compared to the smoother textures of fall and winter produce; it all just inspires me to play around more with the simplicity of each fruit or vegetable rather than the spices and other additions that go into most dishes.
Case in point: my new favorite pasta. It’s nothing revolutionary or radically different, but its simplicity of ingredients, preparation and flavors has me coming back to this dish time and time again. Using just five ingredients (okay, eight if you count the olive oil, salt and pepper), three of which many of you with gardens will be able to find right in your back yard, this is one of those prime examples of simplicity being best. No bells and whistles, no expensive, complicated ingredients; just fresh zucchini and summer squash, juicy tomatoes, and plenty of garlic to go along with your favorite pasta.
In its regular state, this dish is a delicious meatless option that you can put into regular rotation for the Meatless Mondays so many folks are doing these days. But for you omnivores, it’s also a great way to help out with any poultry or seafood leftovers you may have in your kitchen. I’ve served this as an accompaniment to some roasted chicken and a nice salad for a light, yet satisfying summer meal; and other times I have tossed in a few shrimp to create a tasty, colorful entrée. I would imagine it would be a perfect side to some grilled fish, and know it would probably be great as a base for a summer salad with a warm, inventive vinaigrette.
That’s why the simple veggie or fruit-based dishes are sometimes my absolute faves: there’s no limit to what you can do with them! Let’s check out this beautiful but super-easy recipe that will make even the most novice chef seem like a pro.
Simple Summer Squash Pasta (makes 4-6 servings; total cost per serving: $1.15)
3-4 c water
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow summer squash
1 c halved cherry or grape tomatoes
2-3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
2 T olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh basil (optional for garnish)
Cook the pasta in the water according to package instructions. Drain and return to pot, adding a small drizzle of olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking.
Slice the zucchini and summer squash into 1″ rounds. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the minced garlic. Cook over medium high heat until the garlic becomes fragrant and turns a light golden brown. Add the sliced zucchini and squash and stir fry for about 1-2 minutes or until they just become tender, then add the halved tomatoes. Add the pasta to the veggies and mix together until completely combined and then season with salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper.
Serve as an entrée or side, garnish with fresh basil leaves, and enjoy!