Summer Weekend Pasta

By • July 15, 2012 • 69 Comments

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Author Notes: My husband, Tad, and I are always working on a pasta dish. There is no beginning and there is no end. It's a once-a-week dinner that we've been making for years, and each time we tweak it, depending on what's in season, what's in the fridge, what's going on in our work-addled heads. It usually begins with bacon or pancetta. When Tad's at the helm, canned tomatoes will likely find their way into the pan, and if it's my turn, a pinch of crushed chiles. We've drifted from penne to rigatone to orecchiette to shells. We like shapes that our kids can easily spear with a fork. Sometimes eggs get tossed in for a little carbonara effect. And, occasionally, Tad will slip in goat cheese in his mother's honor (she made an excellent pasta with asparagus and goat cheese). There's never a recipe because we never stop the music, we never let the ingredients race to their seats to get counted.

But this week, I thought it was time to put the pasta on record. We'd hit on a new summer variation that was pretty nifty. We've gotten into adding grated summer squash, which nestles into orechiette's little cups. Mixing fresh squash into hot pasta is an excellent way to produce soggy pasta; we cut it off at the pass by first salting the grated squash to draw out its water, and squeezing out the gratings before adding them to the steaming pasta. The base is bacon, of course, with a pinch of red pepper flakes and a smashed garlic clove. And to underline the sweetness and freshness of the dish, we fold in some fresh-scraped corn and chopped basil. The dish is part vegetable, part pasta -- buoyant, bright, and just what we crave on a steamy summer evening.
Amanda Hesser

Serves 4

  • Salt
  • 6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3 medium yellow zucchini, ends trimmed
  • 1 pound orecchiette or small shells
  • 2 ears corn, kernels cut from the cobs, juices and all
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped or torn basil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil, if needed
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
  1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, spread the bacon in a large saute pan, add the garlic clove, and set over medium heat. Cook the bacon until it's crisp and its fat has rendered. As you remove the bacon from the heat, stir in the red pepper flakes.
  2. Grate the summer squash on a box grater. Gather the gratings in a bowl and salt the squash -- I add about 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt. Toss to mix. Let sit for at least 10 minutes, and up to 30 minutes.
  3. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta but don't shake it; you want a little pasta water to help create a sauce. Pour it back in the pot.
  4. Take fistfuls of the squash and squeeze it as firmly as possible to extract any liquid. Add the pressed squash to the pasta. Continue until all the grated squash has been squeezed. Then scrape the corn into the pot, and use a slotted spoon to add the bacon (if there's less than 2 tablespoons fat in the pan, I add the bacon and fat to the pasta); discard the garlic clove. Toss the pasta. Adjust the seasoning, adding more salt if needed. Also pepper and the basil. Toss again. Sometimes I add a few tablespoons of olive oil at this point. Spoon into shallow bowls and top with grated, cheese, but not too much. (And pour yourself a glass of sparkling Gruner Veltliner.)
Jump to Comments (69)

Tags: corn, pasta, Summer

Comments (69) Questions (2)

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Mvc

2 months ago Margie

I tried this tonight and loved it! Used zucchini, and next time will allow to drain for much longer (only did 15 minutes). This dish is light and filling - a wonderful combination. Will be a staple for summer dinners to be sure. Thank you!

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2 months ago Stephanie

Is it possible to use canned corn?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

2 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I think frozen corn would be better than canned, but you can also skip the corn if you can't get fresh.

Stringio

3 months ago Allison Klein

The perfect use for my first two ears of CSA corn of the summer! I was unexpectedly out of garlic but I did have a shallot and a couple of garlic scapes so I used those instead. I'm glad that despite the careful calibration of this perfect pasta dish that Amanda and Tad did, it's still open to some interpretation!

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3 months ago Nutmeg3000

This was so good! I loved the fresh basil in some of the bites. We cut the pasta in half and it was still a very nice ratio of pasta and the other ingredients.

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4 months ago Jenny

This was absolutely delicious--a perfect combo of flavors and textures. I made it for two, so halved everything except the garlic (which I actually doubled.) Stirring in pasta water made a light, creamy sauce, and the squash virtually disappeared except to add a tender bite. Also worked well with spaghetti which was all we had on hand. Will definitely make again as the squash and corn keep coming this summer!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

4 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks for giving it a try, Jenny -- and good to have your notes.

July_31__2009_(2)

4 months ago MmeTrish

The family LOVED this (used zucchini for summer squash) and everyone sad there was not enough for seconds. Thank you, Amanda, for a unique pasta experience that inspires me to work on my own creations!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

4 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I'm actually planning to make it tomorrow night with zucchini. Must have channeled you. I look forward to your pasta recipes -- upload them so we can share!

Flower

7 months ago Tracie

This was delicious. I made this for a bbq over the summer and it was a hit! Super easy to make as well and feels light for a pasta dish!

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8 months ago Nicole

I made this a while back when it was warm out. I wasn't a huge fan of the rawness of the squash (which is strange for me, because I can eat raw zucchini by the slice when not in this dish). I may either reduce the amount of squash, or blanch it before incorporating it to take the bite off.

Stringio

about 1 year ago Rebecca Magee

I'm surprised no one has asked this but I love the plate itself. Can you share your source for dishes?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

This plate is made by Mud Australia: http://www.mudaustralia... We don't yet carry their plates in Provisions, but hopefully soon!

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about 1 year ago Mark

It;s not like me to depart from your recipes, but I used ground turkey instead of the bacon and found some great tri-colored orecchiette - Home Run. We couldn't eat it fast enough.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Love hearing about home runs!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I made this again last night, and couldn't find yellow squash so I used green zucchini this time. It worked well and the green was pretty -- in case anyone is looking for a slight variation. Also straight-up tripled the recipe and the proportions worked fine.

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about 1 year ago regina stasiuk

I would had some lemon zest and juice.
Gina

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about 1 year ago catherine holland

This sounds amazing, but my husband has developed an allergy to raw zucchini (and I assume would have the same reaction to yellow squash). Without asking for medical advice but only culinary, would you recommend sauteing the squash briefly (which will neutralize the proteins causing the allergy) or switching to a different raw vegetable?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Sure, I would saute it in some oil after salting and squeezing the squash.

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about 1 year ago bikracer

What do you think about using turkey bacon in it? I no longer eat any red meat. I think I'm going to try it that way. If it's awesome I'll comment again. :)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Seems like it should work, though I haven't tried it.

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about 1 year ago Robin

Rather then using bacon has anyone tried ham? I'm thinking you could add more protein that way without the calories . Any comments?

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about 1 year ago Mark

Salivating as ask this question. The recipe is awesome, but one of my kids won't eat corn. Can you believe that? Corn? Anyhoo, what alt veggie would both work well with the zucchini and look great on a plate?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

How about diced (small) roasted or sauteed potatoes, or roasted cauliflower? You would also leave out a second veg and just do the bacon and yellow squash.

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about 1 year ago Mark

Thanks Amanda. Found some great Tri-colored orecchiette too.

Credit-jennifer_may

about 1 year ago sanscravat

For vegetarians (or others who wish to avoid bacon) try substituting a little chipotle for the crushed red pepper -- that will restore the smokiness of the bacon.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Good tip -- thanks.

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about 1 year ago mward

We loved this last summer and, now that the corn is in, will be making it over the weekend. It's a winner, for sure.

Sugar.board

over 1 year ago thebreukelenlife

Just made this for the first time this season. Amazing as it was last summer! I let the squash drain for almost an hour. Shocked at how much water came out!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

That's funny because I was using this method of grating and salting the squash for another dish tonight, and thought the same thing. Maybe it's extra watery this year!

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over 1 year ago AllyKrue

Do you think I could sub olive oil for the bacon? Love bacon, but trying to avoid it.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, certainly -- it might lack a bit of richness, but it should still work out well.