I can’t help but to think of my grandmother in the kitchen when it comes to pasta. As a first generation Italian-American, food was everything to her. She’d spend hours in front of the television watching Ciao Italia with Maryanne Esposito. Then, around 3pm, she would emerge from the couch into the kitchen and make us all an Italian feast from scratch. More times than not, that meal involved some kind of pasta. The amount of lasagna, bolognese, and stuffed shells that kitchen saw, could feed a small country.
In that same house where my grandmother would make her magic in the kitchen, my mother had a garden where we’d use a lot of the ingredients. It sat at the back of the yard and took up almost the whole permitter. That garden made summers even sweeter with all the fruits and vegetables she’d grow. When I think about my mother, I often picture her with a tomato in one hand and a zucchini in another. One late summer, she grew a pumpkin so large, it was twice the size of me.
But, my favorite part about that garden was picking the vegetables with her. We’d gear up with our clippers, baskets, and garden shoes and get to work. I was always in charge of picking the zucchini and stringbeans.
When I think about my mother, I often picture her with a tomato in one hand and a zucchini in another.
This summer pasta recipe is inspired by both these leading women in my life. I can’t take a bite of pasta without hearing a medley of the many cooking show theme songs my grandmother would watch. And, when it comes to summer vegetables, I can’t help but think of my mother’s garden with the love and care she put into it. So naturally, I put it all together, and came out with a pasta dish so fresh and delicious, I couldn’t wait to share with all of you!
Types of pasta to use
For this recipe, you can technically use any type of pasta. I happen to think the farfalle works the best just because it fits so nicely on the fork with the zucchini and tomato. But, by all means, use what you have in the house!
What vegetables should I use
The vegetables I chose for this recipe are all bright, summery, and in-season. And, they cook pretty quickly, which is great and easy for midweek dinners.
For the corn, I used fresh corn on the cob and cut the kernels with a corn peeler — one of my favorite kitchen tools — and cooked them in the pan with the other vegetables.
For the tomatoes, I used grape tomatoes, because that’s what I had, but cutting up a beefsteak tomato or even an heirloom tomato would work just fine too.
For the zucchini, I used 1 large zucchini, but I also think yellow summer squash would be just as good.
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- 2 tbsp of butter, divided
- 1 large zucchini, diced in coins
- 1 ear or corn or 1/2 cup of frozen corn
- 2 cups of farfelle pasta
- 1/2 cup of grape tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- salt and pepper for taste
- 1/2 cup of pasta water
- feta cheese for topping
- basil for garnish
- Melt 1 tbsp of butter in your skillet over medium heat.
- Add your zucchini and salt and cook for about 5 minutes or until the zucchini starts to sweat.
- Separately, boil a large pot of water and salt heavily. Make your pasta.
- Add your corn, tomatoes, thyme, oregano to the zucchini, and cook for another 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes start to blister. Use a wooden spoon to mix to make sure all the vegetables are coated with your spices.
- Add your garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- When the pasta is cooked, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water (you likely won't need all of it) and drain pasta.
- Add remaining 1 tbsp of butter to vegetable skillet and stir in lemon juice. Mix together well.
- Add 1 tbsp of pasta water and mix to thicken sauce.
- Top with feta cheese and mix until melts slightly.
- Serve warm and top with fresh basil.