I’ve heard some people say they hate summer squash. “Tasteless” and “textureless” are the words most often used, and my initial response is always, “BUT HAVE YOU FRIED IT?!” followed by further suggestions to grill it or make a warm salad with a good vinaigrette, before ultimately circling back to slicing, breading and frying into crisp rounds topped with parmesan and lemon. But this is not about fried squash (though really, you should make some); this is about pasta.
Let’s make one last bright and summery bowl of noodles before the season ends, shall we? This is one of my favorite ways to work vegetables into a dish. I use a peeler to cut the squash into a ribbon-like shape, similar to that of pappardelle. After a quick blanch, it all twirls together perfectly for a lighter dish that doesn’t feel like a punishment. Finish with a loose pesto, toasted pine nuts and lemon, and you have a perfect end of summer dinner that is anything but “tasteless.” Best served with the last of the good tomatoes and cold white wine.
- 12 ounces dried pappardelle
- 1 large yellow summer squash
- 1 ounce fresh basil
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- juice of half a lemon, plus slices for garnish
- parmesan cheese
Combine the basil, olive oil and garlic powder in a small bowl. Generously season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
Use a vegetable peeler to create the squash ribbons. Shave long, thin pieces from all sides moving from root to end. Stop when you get to the seeds and discard the remaining center piece.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Cook the pappardelle per package instructions. When it has about five minutes left, toast the pine nuts in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the pasta is nearly cooked, reserve a cup of its cooking water (just in case) and throw in the squash. Let it boil with the pasta for about 20 seconds and then drain everything into a colander. Add the pasta, squash, reserved basil mixture and lemon juice to the pan with the pine nuts. Toss well and season with salt and pepper if needed. This is when you can add a splash of that pasta water if you need to loosen things up. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with a little parmesan. Garnish with lemon and serve immediately with extra cheese.