One of the most important things to do with garden or farmer’s market produce is to use it while it’s still fresh. But once the vegetable garden starts producing, it can be like an avalanche! Having some basic season recipes you can improvise upon as the seasons progress can make planning and cooking a fast dinner as quick as a few zucchini plants can overflow your kitchen.
Variety and contrast help make a simple recipe like this really shine. When creating your own version, think about making the colors of the herbs and vegetables varied. Choose vegetables that have varied textures – soft and crunchy, or smooth and crisp, for example, work nicely.
Keep these guidelines in mind: the vegetables should total 2 cups raw (3 cups if one of the vegetables is a leafy green). The herbs should total at least 1/4 cup (less if you are using a very strong herb such as rosemary or garlic) (Here are some great garlic presses for you!). The grated cheeses should come to 1/2 cup or less. Keep the oil to 1Tablespoon. If you want to keep some of the vegetables raw, that’s fine; toss the ones that need a brief cooking into the pasta water before the 1-2 minutes before the pasta is finished.
The combo of fresh tomatoes, summer squash, Saga Blue cheese, and white truffle oil in the recipe came about serendipitously: this is what was in the refrigerator at one particular mid-summer day.
Here are some additional suggested combinations that work well, but don’t consider them the only possibilities. Use your imagination – if not your desperation – to come up with different ways of combining what comes from the garden. The particular combinations here pair together produce that comes into season at the same time.
Spring: snap peas, red onions and sage with sharp cheddar and flax seed oil (Here are some great onion choppers for you!)
Fall: roasted red peppers, spinach and dill with goat cheese and walnut oil
Winter: shredded red cabbage, butternut squash and garlic with Parmesan and toasted sesame oil
Lightning Fast Pasta with Fresh Vegetables and Cheese
- Serves 3-4
- 8 oz dried chunky pasta (for example: farfalle, cavatelli, fusilli, or gemelli) from your pasta maker
- 1 cup tomatoes, roughly chopped in 1/2” pieces
- 1 cup yellow summer squash, same size as the tomatoes
- 3 Tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil, purple if possible
- 1/3 cup crumbled Saga Blue cheese
- 1 Tablespoon white truffle oil
- Set enough water to boil to cook the pasta (consult the package directions).
- While waiting for the water to boil, prepare the vegetables, herbs and cheese.
- Place all the ingredients but the summer squash in a serving bowl large enough to add the cooked pasta to.
- Once the water boils, cook the pasta until it is 1 minute from done.
- When the pasta is 1 minute from done, toss in the summer squash.
- After 1 minute, drain the pasta and squash in a colander. Add them to the contents of the serving bowl and toss, allowing the cheeses to melt in the warmth of the pasta. Serve.
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