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.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium zucchini cut into ½-inch thick rounds
- Splash of dry white wine
- ⅓ cup vegetable stock
- 8 ounces pasta cooked al dente
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
- ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Heat the oil in a large saucier over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes, or until just beginning to brown. Pour in a splash of white wine (about 2 tablespoons) and cook until it evaporates, about 30 seconds.
- Reduce heat to low and add the vegetable stock to the saucier. Put the lid on the pan and cook for about 8 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender.
- Uncover the saucier and stir in the cooked pasta and chickpeas. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the chickpeas are warmed through and most of the liquid at the bottom of the pan has been absorbed.
- Remove from heat and gently fold in the tomatoes, parsley, garlic, lemon zest and juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the pasta into 4 bowls and top each with a tablespoon of cheese.
About Le Creuset
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 ½ quart saucier while you're there!