Pasta - A perfect vehicle for summer vegetables - Eat Drink Better

Pasta – A perfect vehicle for summer vegetables

When my fridge and counter-top are loaded with summer veggies, pasta becomes my go-to weeknight meal. It’s fast, easy, and incredibly versatile.

You can turn just about any vegetable into a pasta sauce. Here’s how:

(The following guidelines are based on serving 4 people.)

1. First, create your base. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet (vegetables like eggplant and broccoli need up to 1/4 cup of oil). When the oil is hot, add a chopped onion and cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add 2 to 4 minced cloves of garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute.

2. Next, add your veggies.

  • If you’re making a tomato-based sauce, add 2 cups of chopped ripe tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until the tomatoes break down and the sauce thickens. Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of mild, chopped herbs like fresh basil or parsley at the last minute. Or add a few leaves of stronger fresh herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, or tarragon.
  • If you’re making a veggie-based sauce, add 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of chopped vegetables. Start with slower-cooking vegetables and then add faster-cooking vegetables as the slower ones get most of the way cooked. Fragile veggies like pea shoots, shelled fresh peas, chopped spinach, and arugula shouldn’t be added until the last minute of cooking. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until crisp-tender. Toss in fresh herbs, bread crumbs, toasted nuts, and/or cheese at the last minute.

Here are some of my favorite pasta and summer vegetable combinations:

  • Spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce and basil
  • Linguine with eggplant, fresh tomatoes, and bread crumbs
  • Whole wheat farfalle with roasted garlicky potatoes and pea shoots
  • Ziti with broccoli raab, roasted garlic, and dried chiles
  • Spaghetti with caramelized leeks, parsley, and toasted walnuts
  • Penne with eggplant, balsamic vinegar, and feta
  • Linguine with zucchini, goat cheese, and lemon
  • Penne with roasted carrots and tarragon
  • Spaghetti with caramelized onions, white beans, and sage

Do you have a favorite pasta recipe for summer vegetables? Share it as a comment!

Image courtesy of sassyradish via a Creative Commons license.

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I'm an ecologist turned journalist turned farmer-in-training. I'm currently working on an organic farm and creamery in Illinois. Follow me on twitter (http://twitter.com/rachelshulman), friend me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=3105709), or follow me on StumbleUpon (http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/RachelShulman/).