I put honey in my tea. I drizzle it over oatmeal. I bake with it (sometimes). I do not, as a general life rule, stir it into my pasta.
This week, that all changed. Lest you think I have gone off the deep end, let's discuss the obvious brilliance of marrying sweet and savory on your dinner plate. We love recipes like fig and blue cheese savouries. We put miso in our butterscotch bars. Our Monte Cristo sandwiches ooze with cheese and sport a thin layer of raspberry jam.
So I embraced the honey-in-my-pasta concept. I've yet to be steered wrong by the weird, wild, and wonderful recipes on the De Cecco pasta boxes, and this week's is no exception. Use fresh or dried pasta of any type here, as any shape will do. You'll briefly cook a glut of summer squash, sliced into thin coins, until they slump down obediently and begin to wilt. Add a touch of honey to sweeten and slightly caramelize their browned edges.
Then you'll whip up an interesting take on a pesto. Basil will stand down (but that's okay, you can put it in your ice cream instead) and let fresh tarragon take a turn. Tarragon and basil share a similar anise-like flavor, so this substitution is a smart one. You'll whiz a few ice cubes into the pesto at the end to lighten the sauce. This too may sound bizarre, but trust the Italians here.
By now, you're getting rather hungry. You'll toss your cooked pasta (keep it quite al dente) in the hot pan with the cooked squash, a hefty dollop of fresh ricotta cheese streaked with nutmeg, and your not-quite-pesto.
You'll try it, and it will surprise you: a delicate sweetness (honey), an earthiness (nutmeg), a creaminess (ricotta). You'll serve it again and again all summer. You'll eat more pasta, just because of this recipe. You'll buy more honey.
- 1 pound pasta
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1/2 cup fresh tarragon leaves
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 large ice cubes
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 medium zucchini or summer squash
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 cup sheep's milk ricotta
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
What else would you never think to put in a bowl of pasta—except that it works so well? Share your weird-but-goods in the comments.