This past August I got married to a beautiful and talented cook named Ruby. To celebrate her as well as the tail end of the summer cooking season, she has taken over the lunar letter this September to share her top summer pasta recipes.
“It’s the end of August… did you eat enough corn on the cob?” A friend of mine wrote this as an instagram caption years ago, and I have never been able to get it out of my head. There is something about the bounty of summer produce that as exciting as it is… is stressful! Am I taking advantage of it enough, and am I eating enough corn, peaches, Tomatoes? The window is so short in Canada. Where did the summer go?
While it can be stressful to try to pack it all in, for me there is such a joy in making a dish that I know I only make one to two times a year when the produce is in season. If I can just get it together to make it once, that is enough! It turns a regular dinner into a special occasion. It makes me think about what was happening in my life a year ago when I last ate it, and appreciate what I have around me. So, I am going to share a few of my favorite summer pasta recipes for you.
(Note: I am gluten free and use Garafolo, and Rummo gf pasta for my general at home pasta cooking needs. If you are able to, make these with the real deal baby).
(Deb Pearlman- Smitten Kitchen)
Serves: 2. I’ve tried doubling it for 4 and it didn’t turn out as good as for 2, but that could be because of the gf pasta I was using. LMK how it goes.
Best month to cook: July
Why I like it: I started making this recipe this year. I am obsessed. It’s easy, and the taste is way more than the sum of its parts. It uses zucchini which is cheap, everywhere, not not always particularly good or exciting. There are few ingredients and somehow it is so delicious.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for pasta water, and to taste
- 8 ounces (225 grams) spaghetti, cooked al dente
- 1 1/4 pounds (570 grams) zucchini, trimmed, coarsely grated
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
- 1/2 cup (45 grams) grated parmesan
- Handful fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
- Boil your spaghetti in well-salted water until it’s 1 minute shy of fully cooked. Before you drain it, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and set it aside.
- Melt butter in your empty pan over medium-high heat and add the garlic, stirring it into the butter for one minute before adding the zucchini, salt, and red pepper. Cook the zucchini, stirring from time to time, for 13 to 15 minutes. It will first let off a puddle liquid, the liquid will cook off, and the zucchini will become soft and concentrated. If the zucchini begins to brown, reduce the heat slightly. Stir frequently for 2 more minutes, chopping it down into smaller bits with the edge of your spoon or spatula, until it reaches an almost spreadable consistency.
- Pour in 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water and stir up anything stuck, then add drained pasta, and cook together for 2 minutes. Use tongs or two forks to pull up the zucchini butter sauce into the pasta strands, tossing frequently, and adding some or all of the remaining pasta water as needed to loosen. Toss in half of the parmesan and basil and mix, then transfer to a serving bowl. Finish with remaining parmesan and basil.
(NYT Cooking, Melissa Clarke)
Serves: 3 (Weird... I usually modify the rations up or down to serve 2-4
Best month to cook: August
Why I like it: Yes, you need to get a blender out and that is annoying, but it’s worth it. This pasta tastes so creamy and wonderful and delicious. It’s the only pasta that I use another appliance for and make it 1-2 times a year. Again, It's worth it.
- 12 oz dry short pasta
- 1T evoo
- 1 bunch of scallions (thinly sliced, whites and greens separate)
- 2 large ears corn, shucked and kernels removed
- Salt and pepper
- 1T unsalted butter
- 1/2C grated parm
- Big handful of basil, mint, herb
- 1/4t red pepper flakes
- Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until 1 minute shy of al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2C of pasta water.
- Heat oil in large saute pan over medium head; add scallion whites and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, 3 mins. Add 1/4C water and corn (reserve ¼ C of corn for later); simmer until corn is heated through and almost tender 2-5 minutes. Add salt and pepper, transfer to a blender ,and puree mixture until smooth, adding a a little extra water as needed to get a thick but pourable texture.
- Heat same skillet over high heat. Add butter and melt. Add reserved corn and cook until tender 1-2 minutes. If butter browns that’s ok. Add corn puree and cook for 30 seconds to combine.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add pasta and 1/4C of pasta water toss to coat. Cook for 1 minutes, and add more pasta cooking water if needed. Remove from heat. Add 1/4C of scallion greens, parm, herbs, red papper flakes, salt, pepper. Add lemon juice to taste. Transfer to bowls and garnish with more scallions, herbs, evoo, black pepper.
(Joshua McFadden - Six Seasons)
Serves: 2 but can be doubled easily. It will just take more time to fry the eggplant.
Best month to cook: August
Why I like it: This is a classic recipe! I’m sure there are lots of other great version out there but this is the one I make. It is relatively simple and oh so good. You could not use sausage and make it full vegetarian but if I’m going to make it once a year I figured I should just go for it.
- 1 medium globe eggplant (cut into ½ inch rounds, each cut into ½ inch wide strips)
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- ½ pound italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved if large
- 1 T fresh oregano leaves
- ½ t red pepper flakes
- 8 oz short pasta
- 1/2C pecorino
- 1/2C ricotta salata (I usually just do 1C of parm for both cheeses)
- Put the eggplant strips in a colander and sprinkle with 1t of salt. Leave for 1-2 hours (I do less) to draw out the excess moisture. WHen it’s time to cook them, blot off the moisture and excess salt from the surface with a paper towel and give them a gentle squeeze to really wring out the water.
- Heat a glug of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic. Cook slowly to toast the garlic so it's very soft, fragrant, nicely golden brown and not burnt - about 5 minutes.
- Shape the sausage into 3 patties. Add the sausage to the pan and cook, flipping a few times, until gently browned on the outside and almost cooked on the inside about 5 minutes total. Break up the sausage into bite-sized chunks. Scoop the sausage out of the pan and set aside.
- If the pan looks slightly dry add another couple of tablespoons of olive oil, bring the heat up to medium high, and all the eggplant in a single layer (Cook in batches if necessary- I do two batches). Cook the eggplant, turning the strips as they become browned on each side, until they’re fairy tender and nicely coloured all over, 6-8 minutes. (If you double the recipe, this is the part that will end up taking a long time).
- Add the tomatoes, oregano, and chili flakes and season with salt and a lot of black pepper. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the tomatoes break down a bit and the whole mess gets nicely juicy and sauce, another 6-8 minutes, Return the sausage to the pan.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a pot and salt salt - Add pasta and cook until al dente - 1 minute shy of the time listed on the package. Reserve 1/2C of pasta water.
- Drain pasta and add it to the pan with the eggplant. Stir and cook for another minute or two so the pasta absorbs the flavors. Add teh pecorino and toss. Taste and adjust with more salt, pepper, chili flakes, pasta water if needed. Add to bowls and garnish with ricotta salata if nursing and olive oil.
Cherry Tomato pasta with oregano
Serves: 2 Could double it for 4 easily
Best month to cook: July-August
I started making this recipe last summer when I was growing oregano on my balcony and looking for something to do with it. While cherry tomatoes are decent all year round, they’re extra great in the summer and seem to pop up at markets earlier than larger summer tomatoes which have a pretty short season. This is my recipe based on pasta all’olio
- Boil your pasta, a few minutes shy of al dente, save some pasta water
Slice up 4ish cloves of garlic (depending on the size, your preference etc.)
Pour out a BIG glug of evoo (1/4cup?) and put in the garlic-- bring up to heat on medium until the garlic smells good and is just starting to take on some colour
Add some red pepper flakes or something spicy if you like and toast the spices in the oil for under a minute
Add a pint of cherry tomatoes (I like to keep my whole), and a few sprigs of oregano (i grow this is the summer but you could also use basil), salt, pepper - cook until cherry tomatoes start to break down and get jammy ( about10 minutes). If the cherry tomatoes are all bursting and its looking liquidy cook the liquid down until it’s a nice jammy texture
Add the pasta, ¼ cup of pasta water, a pat of butter, and cook, tossing frequently, until the pasta is cooked to your liking and a nice sauce has formed
- Garnish with some olive oil and some oregano leaves
It’s not too late to make some of these summer delights! So go… NOW! Cook! Enjoy the last days of summer with a tasty bowl of pasta, while the days are still long (kinda), and warm (kinda). You can check out my IG where I post my food frequently (@rubysnides) and infrequently (@rubycookingstuff) for more!