Italian Garden Pasta
I love the adaptability of this light and simple summertime pasta dish. It’s a staple at Fern Hollow Nature Center’s annual Italian Garden Dinner where we change it up each year depending on what’s at the peak of the season.
A simple, delicious and extraordinarily adaptable dish that takes advantage of the best of the season.
- 1 pound fresh pasta (Fede Pasta, made in North Huntington, PA stars in this dish at the Italian Garden Dinner)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup pancetta, cubed
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 pints grape tomatoes (I like a combination of yellow and red)
- 1 small yellow squash or zucchini, halved lengthwise then thinly sliced into ½-round pieces
- 1½ cups fresh kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
- ½ red pepper, thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced into ribbons
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Place a large pot of water on the stove and heat to a boil.
As the water heats, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add in the pancetta and cook 2 to 3 minutes to render the fat a little bit. Add the garlic and stir until it starts to soften, but not brown. Toss in the tomatoes, squash, kale, and peppers. Cook 6 to 8 minutes, until the tomatoes burst, the kale wilts a bit, and the squash and peppers are tender. While the vegetables cook, put the pasta in the boiling water and cook according to package instructions.
Before draining the pasta, remove 1 cup of pasta water from the pot and reserve. Drain pasta and add to the pan of vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in ½ cup of the reserved pasta water, cook pasta and sauce together for a couple of minutes, stirring to combine, adding more reserved pasta sauce if desired. Toss in the fresh basil just before serving and with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Any summer vegetable can be used in this dish – corn, green beans, sweet onion, fennel, and broccoli rabe are all delicious additions. Omit the pancetta and cheese for a delicious vegan variation.
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