Basil Basics

As we savor the last of summer’s produce, this versatile herb comes in handy

September is often thought of as a transitional month: The last days of summer are waning, but we aren’t quite ready to usher in fall. Fresh summer veggies are still abundant, with some of them peaking in flavor this time of year. Chances are, you might be sick of grilling out by this point. You’ve no doubt had your fill of burgers and dogs and are looking for a way to bring all that fresh produce indoors and onto the stovetop. One of the easiest — and semi-sneaky — ways to load up on your vegetables is by folding them into a pasta dish. Add in some cheese and nuts for protein and you’ve covered all your nutritional bases. This is definitely the month to make an easy-to-prep stovetop supper while enjoying the gift that is air conditioning, and perhaps with a refreshing cocktail in hand. Who said cooking couldn’t be fun?


Summer Medley Pasta

Servings: 4

Summer’s best produce comes together in this easy weeknight dish, bursting with the flavor of the season’s last hurrah. Whether you’re cooking for one or hosting a dinner party, this medley of zucchini, corn and tomatoes is sure to be a hit.

  • 3⁄4 pound pappardelle pasta*
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 2 medium zucchini (about a pound), cut into half-moons
  • 2 cups fresh corn (2 ears, cut from cob)
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled 1 handful freshly torn basil
  • Salt and pepper

*Cook’s note: You can use any shape of pasta you like; we think pappardelle works particularly well here.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1⁄2 cup of the cooking water, and return pasta to the pot. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, corn, tomatoes and zucchini, giving everything a toss to coat with oil. Add a dash of salt and pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 6–8 minutes. Lower the heat and squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the veggies.

Add the pasta plus a splash of the reserved water to the skillet with the vegetables, tossing gently over low heat. Continue tossing, adding more pasta water as needed, until a silky sauce begins to form and coat the pasta. Remove the skillet from heat and top the pasta with goat cheese, walnuts and basil. Add fresh cracked pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Categories: Local Flavor