THE CULINARIAN: Summer Pasta

2013-06-24T10:45:00Z THE CULINARIAN: Summer PastaJane Dunne nwitimes.com
June 24, 2013 10:45 am  • 

My local organic farmers' market in Lincoln Park gets more interesting each week as the growing season heats up. Gorgeous vegetables beg to be taken home and combined in this delicious pasta dish, which is exactly what I did. Hope you will, too!

RIGATONI WITH VEGETABLES & GOAT CHEESE

(4 servings)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

1/2 cup sweet bell pepper, diced (red or orange or both)

2/3 cup green or yellow (small) zucchini, thinly sliced

1/4 cup thinly sliced cremini or button mushrooms

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise

1/4 cup chopped green onion (white and green parts)

1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

1/4 cup sliced basil leaves (see note)

3 ounces mild goat cheese, crumbled

Salt and pepper

1/2 pound rigatoni pasta (or rotini, if preferred)

Note on basil: Stack 4 basil leaves on top of each other. Roll tightly as if rolling a cigar. With a sharp knife, cut each "cigar" into thin slices, slightly on the diagonal. You will have lovely, lacy basil shreds to strew into this pasta dish.

Put the pasta on to boil according to package directions for "al dente." It should be ready close to the time you finish the sauce.

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, sauté the garlic in olive oil, about 4 minutes. Add bell peppers and cook another 3 to 4 minutes. Add the squash and mushrooms and cook about 4 minutes, mixing well as you go. Add the tomatoes, green onion, parsley and goat cheese and heat through until tomatoes give up some of their juices and the cheese has melted into the sauce. Stir in the basil at the last minute and add salt and freshly-grated black pepper to taste.

Drain the pasta and combine well with the vegetable sauce.

Serve with toasted garlic bread on the side and your favorite bottle of chilled white wine (although a pinot noir is great with this, too.)

TOASTED PARMESAN GARLIC BREAD (4-6 servings)

1/4 cup butter, softened, room temp. (salted butter is better here)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1-1/2 tablespoons grated imported Parmesan cheese, divided

1 (1/2-pound or so) French baguette, halved lengthwise

Heat oven to 300 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine butter, oil, garlic powder, dried thyme, red pepper flakes and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese.

Spread each half of the French bread with equal potions of the butter mixture. Sprinkle tops with remaining Parmesan.

Place bread halves on a baking sheet, crusts down, Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.

Cut the bread into quarters, or smaller size pieces, and serve hot.

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