So yes I am totally one of those people who when someone says “don’t touch that,” all I want to do is touch it! I probably had no interest in touching whatever it was before, but once you tell me I can’t do something I all of sudden get this sudden urge to want to do it.
Now that I am pseudo grown-up I am pretty good at controlling that urge but when I was a kid it got me into loads of trouble. Like when one of my sleep away camp bunk mates told me not to make another “peep” or she would get out of bed and slap me. What did I do . . . I said “peep” and what happened? I got slapped. Then we both spent the following evening in our bunk while our bunk mates attended whatever evening activity was going on that night. Lesson learned? Sort of.
I absolutely love Alice Water’s simplistic approach to cooking, in fact, I admire it. So when I made her spaghetti with summer squash and walnuts I was so good about not mucking around with it, but it was honestly killing me. Since then that dish has become a household staple but tweaked in many, many different ways. So as the end of summer draws near and my endless supply of summer squash and heirloom cherry tomatoes disappears I thought I would share with you all, my summer staple pasta recipe.
Not only is it absolutely delish it is probably one of the easiest dishes I cook in my kitchen and is also totally simple to switch up.
Summer Pasta (a what i made for dinner original)
1/3 to 1/2 lb of pasta of your choice – I generally use penne or linguini
3 smallish summer squash (you can pick any combo you like paddy pan, crook neck, zucchini, etc)
2/3 lb of deveined, peeled shrimp (I used the easy to peel in the picture because they were on sale)
2/3 to 1 cup of cherry tomatoes (I am obsessed with the heirlooms this year) – optional
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Goat cheese (optional)
1/4 cup Toasted walnuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
Now depending on cooking times you will have to time this as best you can so everything is done at the same time. I am trying to use whole wheat pasta which usually takes close to 20 minutes but check the cooking times on your pasta.
Slice the summer squash into quarter-inch thick pieces and place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 20 minutes. If you want them a little spicier I sometimes add some red pepper flakes.
Meanwhile cook pasta according to directions, drain and reserve some pasta water.
Alright so here is how you can switch it up:
- If you want to add some shrimp place on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. You can always use red pepper flakes here too if you want to spice it up. Place in the oven and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. You know the shrimp is done when it curls up and turns pink. Be careful not to over cook or you will end up with rubbery shrimp.
- If you want to add some tomatoes wash and dry cherry tomatoes. Leave them whole and place on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and cook from about 10 minutes.
- If you want a crunch add some toasted walnuts. Simply put the walnuts on a cookie sheet and toast for 5 minutes until lightly browned.
Plate pasta in bowls. If you would like a creamier-style pasta add several decent size crumbles of goat cheese. I like to put them in the bowl before the pasta so the heat of the pasta melts the cheese. Then add any combo of squash, shrimp, tomatoes and / or walnuts. Pour a little reserved pasta water just to add a touch of moisture to the dish, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and add the basil if you have it on hand. Toss and enjoy!
Some of my favorite combinations:
- Summer squash, shrimp, red pepper flakes and basil
- Tomatoes, shrimp, red pepper flakes
- Both of the above are great with our without goat cheese
- Summer squash, tomatoes and toasted almonds
Enjoy with a great glass of Chardonnay or Soave