It’s been an extremely hot summer here in Chicago.
When it gets this warm, about the last thing anybody wants is a heavy pasta dish. Pasta salads are okay, but they won’t cut it for dinner.
Here’s a light and delicious entree pasta dish that can be enjoyed even in the warmest of weather. The secret is to use homemade pasta, which is lighter and far less dense than commercial pastas. I used this amazing sweet potato pasta, which I made last week.
Also, since heavy sauces simply won’t do once the temperature gets higher than 75F, it’s time to use something lighter, such as a simple roasted garlic-infused olive oil.
You can flavor olive oil with just about anything. For some powerful flavors, such as rosemary or black peppercorn, you simply soak the ingredients in the oil for a few hours and the flavors will be absorbed.
Making roasted garlic-infused olive oil is great because it’s a two-fer. Not only do you get a smooth, slightly nutty tasting roasted garlic flavored olive oil, but as a side benefit you get roasted garlic, which is wonderful when spread on freshly baked bread, or used in sauces or stuffings.
All you do is to take about six cloves of garlic, put them in a small pan with half-cup of extra virgin olive oil, and heat them over a low heat until they begin to turn brown, about 12 minutes. Then you turn off the heat and let the whole thing cool as the garlic flavor leaches into the oil.
When it’s completely cool, remove the garlic cloves and save them in the refrigerator for another time. I used mine a few nights later for a roasted garlic butter sauce I served over scallops. The oil will stay fresh unrefrigerated in an airtight container for a week or longer.
Finally, for a summer pasta entree, there can be no heavy meats, such as meatballs or Italian sausage, to weigh down the meal. Instead, a simple light and delicious medley of freshly steamed carrots, broccoli, zucchini and yellow squash will do.
Top it all off with a little freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese and you have a mouth-watering delightful summertime pasta entree that won’t fill you up.
1 lb Fresh Pasta
3 Carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup Broccoli florets
1 medium Zucchini, cut into half moons
1 medium Yellow Squash, cut into half moons
3 TBS Roasted Garlic-Infused Olive Oil
2 TBS Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 TBS Freshly Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the pasta. Cook until done, about 6 minutes. Strain and return to the pot. Add 1 TBS of the olive oil and mix together so the pasta doesn’t stick together. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, bring another large pot of water to a boil. Add the carrots, return to a boil and cook until soft, about five minutes. Then add the broccoli and cook until soft, about another 3 minutes. Then add zucchini and yellow squash and cook until soft, about another 2 minutes. Strain vegetables and add to pasta. Add remaining olive oil to the pot, along with the parmesan cheese. Toss together, being careful to keep the vegetables intact.
To plate, use a tongs to create a large pile of pasta in the center of a pasta bowl, then arrange the vegetables around the pasta. Garnish with the Pecorino Romano Cheese.
Summer can be a tricky season for cooking. Even though we fire up our grill an averge of four or five times per week, it is sometimes hard to come up with other ideas for light meals that can be enjoyed in hot weather. We make salads a lot, topping them with grilled chicken and fish or shrimp.
What type of summer meals do you make to give your family a break from salads and grilled foods? Share your ideas in the comments section below. And thanks for looking at my blog!