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Light, fresh and full of garden vegetables, this pasta primavera is a quick and tasty summer meal.
There were four food groups in my house growing up: pasta, sauce, meatballs and sausage. Okay, okay, I exaggerate, but pasta with sauce was not just a staple meal in our home as much as a way of life. Sauce and meatballs were a Sunday must and the leftovers always found their way into our weekly meals from simple spaghetti to stuffed shells to lasagna to eggplant parm. We also indulged in a creamy chicken fettuccine, our twist on a less “soupy” version of pasta fagioli, and the occasional veal and peppers.
I don’t just have a soft spot for Italian food, I have a fundamental need to eat it regularly. It’s both nature and nurture for me so I don’t even bother trying to fight it. But, like many of you, I do crave lighter fare in the summer months. I love the freshness of herbs, garden vegetables at their peak, and a drizzle of grassy olive oil in place of a heavy sauce.
Pasta primavera satisfies all of my Italian food needs and is ideal for a quick summer dinner. It’s fast…half and hour-ish from start to finish.
It’s light. I don’t want to overwhelm those farm fresh veggies and herbs with cream or a thick sauce.
And it’s hearty without feeling leaden or heavy.
Okay, so here we go. First things first. Get that water on for the pasta and then start chopping. I like to prep all the veggies first and then get to cooking. Minced shallots (you can substitute onions if you like) and garlic are sautéed until fragrant in a little olive oil. Next comes diced peppers, zucchini and squash. Let those cook down for a minute or so and then add the grape tomatoes. Have an abundance of plum tomatoes from your garden to use up? Use those instead, just dice them and toss em in. Let the veggies cook together until they are soft, but not mushy. Then add white wine, some pasta water (the starch in the water will help to thicken and add body to the sauce) and grated parmesan cheese. Toss in the pasta (I love those big fat pappardelle noodles, but you can use your favorite), scallions and fresh herbs. And don’t forget to season as you cook. Adding a sprinkle of salt and pepper as you add in each ingredient will insure that your finished dish has layers of flavor.
To serve I sprinkle on a little extra parmesan cheese, chopped herbs and a drizzle of good olive oil. Now spaghetti and meatballs this is not. It’s not meant to be saucy or cheesy (although a dollop of fresh ricotta or burrata would be damn good on top), but it should instead taste like the garden. There’s no reason we can’t satisfy our pasta cravings in the summer and still be ready for a bike ride after dinner instead of a nap. So load your basket with all the veggies and grab your knife, because we’re getting our Italian on, summer-style.
- 1 lb pasta I like Pappardelle
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 large shallots about 1 cup, minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 red orange or yellow bell peppers, coarsely chopped
- 1 large green zucchini cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half moons
- 1 large yellow squash cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half moons
- 2 cups grape tomatoes halved
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3 scallions sliced
- 1/4 cup basil thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp Italian parsley minced
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil to finish
- Grated parmesan and minced herbs to garnish
Cook the pasta according to package instructions and reserve 2 cups of the pasta water.
While the pasta cooks, cook the vegetables.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook for two mins, stirring frequently.
Add the peppers, zucchini and squash. Season with salt and cook for about 5 mins, stirring frequently.
Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 8-10 mins. Add the white wine, 1 cup of reserved pasta water and the parmesan cheese.
Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the cooked pasta, scallions and herbs. Add additional pasta water to thin if necessary.
To serve, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan and fresh herbs.