Summer Weekend Pasta

By • July 15, 2012 • 60 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.)

Comments (60) Questions (1)

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Flower

22 days 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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2 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

8 months 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

8 months 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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8 months 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

8 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Love hearing about home runs!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

8 months 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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8 months ago regina stasiuk

I would had some lemon zest and juice.
Gina

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8 months 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

8 months 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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8 months 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

8 months 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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8 months 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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8 months 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

8 months 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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8 months ago Mark

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

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8 months 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

8 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Good tip -- thanks.

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9 months 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

9 months 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

9 months 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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9 months 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

9 months 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.

Simpsons_face_-_chris

9 months ago Christopher Culhane

I tried this on the weekend and it was fantastic. I used bacon drippings and the sweetness from the corn is wonderful. To drain the zucchini you can place a ball on a piece of cheese cloth and twist it until it's properly drained.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

9 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Great tip -- thanks!

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10 months ago bwf17

Any reason I cannot use green squash? Do you think it will change the flavor too much?
TY

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

10 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

You can definitely use green squash -- it won't be as sweet but it should be great.

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10 months ago Shannon Good

I have a lot of frozen crookneck squash from my garden in the freezer and this sounds like a great way to use it. I like to augment pasta with squash, shredded & salted, to draw out the excess moisture. It lightens up the dish and adds flavor & nutrition.

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over 1 year ago Wulffmom

My husband and I loved this dish! I love the bit of spiciness from the red pepper flakes and we're really excited to try it again mixing it up with different veggies. And it was SO easy! I have a one month old and made it start to finish in under an hour while my husband played with the baby. This will be a new staple in my house!

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over 1 year ago mollymilktruck

My entire family gobbled this up! Hubby and five children ranging in ages 17 down to 6, all with different preferences/favorites, were 'clean platers'. I love the sweetness and creamy texture the grated squash adds and love knowing all of those good nutrients aren't cooked out. Paired with the savory bacon (with drippings please!), the flavors are balanced beautifully but simple. I did substitute the basil with green onions. Will make again and again, summer, fall, winter, spring and will have fun playing with different veggies. Thank you for the inspiration!

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over 1 year ago stephenzr

I don't know. The dish seemed to be missing acid and didn't have a very fulfilling taste. I see this being ok as a side.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

You can add acid -- that may improve it for you, but I wouldn't serve pasta as a side dish.