Pasta night is the perfect opportunity for using up whatever you have in abundance. In the winter, I like throwing together pasta dinners with kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, and sun-dried tomatoes from the pantry, but in the summer, the possibilities are kind of endless. Because everything! Is! In season!
(Okay, maybe not everything — but it seems that way when you’re at the farmers market in July and there are peaches and corn and summer squash as far as the eye can see.)
I’m a total sucker for heirloom summer squash even though it doesn’t taste much different than your average green zucchini. But look: stripes! Any summer squash you can get your hands on will work for this recipe — the type of squash doesn’t matter, but how thick you slice it definitely does.
Braising is a cooking method where you first cook a food on high heat, then you add liquid and finish cooking it over low heat until it’s tender. With zucchini, if you cut the slices too thin, when they’re finished cooking, they’ll be mushy and fall apart. You don’t want that! Cutting them thick ensures that they’ll be tender all the way through, but still firm enough to keep their shape.
For a little color, I added an assortment of grape and cherry tomatoes; to make the meal more substantive, chickpeas add a little bit of protein to the mix. And then there’s the finishing touch — gremolata, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and grated parmesan cheese.
The best thing about this recipe is how adaptable it is. Green beans and fresh corn could be added in or substituted for either the tomatoes or zucchini; lentils or white beans could be used instead of the chickpeas. Not a fan of parsley? Switch out the gremolata with your favorite pesto. In the fall, try using kale or Brussels sprouts; in the spring, asparagus works perfectly with the bright lemony flavor of the gremolata.
Good cookware is an investment worth making if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Le Creuset’s new stainless steel line has the same attention to detail and high quality of their iconic cast iron cookware; it’s not meant to last a year or two, it’s built to last a lifetime. Find out more about the saucier and stockpot used in making this recipe in my review on the Marketplace and enter to win your own 3 1/2 quart saucier while you’re there!
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