Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes with Penne

                                                    “Hot town, Summer in the City,”

Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes with Penne

This is a quick and easy pasta using a few fresh ingredients from the farmers market, one that doesn’t demand too much effort when it’s hot, but it beats take-out.  The vegetables simmer together and create the sauce that is ready in about the same time it takes the pasta to cook. While this uses penne, you could use your favorite variety of pasta. You could also use a different fresh herb.
You could also do this with eggplant. If you do, peel (or don’t peel) the eggplant and dice it into equal sized pieces. You’ll want 2 cups.  Eggplant soaks up a lot of oil when its cooked, so this method of precooking the eggplant in the oven* uses less oil. Place the diced eggplant into a bowl. Mix the eggplant with a few tablespoons oil, and season with salt and ground black pepper. Spread the eggplant out in one layer on a baking sheet lined with a sheet of parchment or a silicon mat (a non-stick pan will work, too). Roast the eggplant in a 350 degree oven until it begins to soften, about 10 minutes depending on the size of your eggplant pieces. If you make this with eggplant, start the sauce with the tomatoes then add the cooked eggplant to the tomatoes.

Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes with Penne
For three servings:

4 ½ ounces dried pasta
2 cups zucchini, sliced lengthwise into quarters, then cut into 1/4” slices
2 cups assorted cherry tomatoes, cut in half, lengthwise
¼  cup chopped fresh basil
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
1 or 2 teaspoon chopped garlic (depending on your vampire index)
hot pepper flakes, optional
salt and ground black pepper
olive oil for cooking
 ½ cup pasta water

1. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions.
2. Heat a large sauté pen over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, swirl in 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add the zucchini; season with some salt and pepper. Cook the zucchini for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and the hot pepper flakes and stir; if the pan appears dry, add a little extra olive oil. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Sauté the tomatoes for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the garlic and stir; cook until fragrant.  Add ½ cup of the pasta water to the pan. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the fresh basil, cover the pan and let the vegetables simmer gently until tender, about an additional 3 to 4 minutes; if the sauce is ready before the pasta, remove the pan from the heat. Remember, the vegetables are creating the sauce for the pasta, so don’t let the pan dry out.

3. Drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the vegetables; gloss the pasta with a little olive oil. Scatter the fresh mozzarella over the pasta and stir together. Divide the pasta between three bowls and serve.
*I know. “If it’s hot outside, who wants to turn on the oven?” but this is a good method for cooking eggplant without using so much oil.

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