Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Pasta

How's your garden doing?

Mine's going gangbusters.  We've got the notorious "short growing season" here in Minnesota, but we've had a stretch of hot weather lately that makes the herbs and veggies go bonkers.  I even picked a couple of cherry tomatoes today!

I had this and that in my fridge and freezer, and it seemed to make sense to put it all in a summery pasta dish.  I call it "Summer Pasta" because it is a recipe that can accommodate whatever the heck you have in abundance.  Squash, green beans, scallions.  Throw it in there, you'll be happy.

The chicken?  Grilled.  Sauteed.  Leftover rotisserie.  The corn?  Fresh please.  I had some frozen, so I cooked it up in a skillet with some butter and salt to make it a little sweet and more golden.  The tomatoes?  Cherry is nice.  Whole and quartered work, too.  Roma, Big Boy, Pear.  Herbs?  I have more than I know what to do with - so I used lemon balm and basil.  The cheese?  I adore fresh mozzarella.  But Parmesan would be good, so would diced fontina or asiago, really anything you like.

Go to it.  A pound of pasta, 4 chicken breast halves, and a bunch of other stuff made a full meal for our family of 8, plus lunch leftover for Eric tomorrow and a bit for a couple of us as well.  The key is to have less pasta, more "stuff."  Healthier that way, too.

Here we go, then.

Summer Pasta

1 pound of pasta (rotini tonight), cooked and drained, a cup of the water reserved

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
salt and pepper
4 ears of corn, kernels removed (or 1 cup)
2 cups tomatoes (used grape ones today)
4 chicken breast halves, cooked and cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups diced fresh mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh lemon balm
more olive oil for finishing the dish

In a very large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic and jalapeno, saute for 5 minutes until softened a bit.  Add tomatoes and cook for a few minutes, shaking the pan.  Add wine to the hot pan, stirring to loosen anything on the bottom.  Add chicken and corn, toss to coat and heat.  Season all with salt and pepper.  Add in the cooked pasta and the reserved cooking water.  Toss it all around to give a good coating.  Stir in the herbs.  At the last minute, toss in the mozzarella and give a final drizzling of olive oil.




Mise En Place
If you're French, it means everything is in place and ready to go.




It's the pasta cooking water that makes it glisten so nicely.





Dessert.  Make some baking powder biscuits.  Macerate some strawberries with sugar for an hour.  Whip up some heavy cream, add a bit of powdered sugar and vanilla, and call the whole deal Strawberry Shortcake.

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