One of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of veggies I find at my local farmers' markets. This past weekend I bought a ton of stuff including zucchini, squash, and cherry tomatoes.
I knew I wanted to incorporate them into some sort of dish that would reheat nicely and be easy to take for lunch all week. My mind instantly wandered to pasta, and before I knew it, I was paging through Domenica Marchetti's The Glorious Pasta of Italy. I landed on a recipe for shells with summer squash and ricotta, which Marchetti explained that she would make for her kids in place of processed mac and cheese. A dish that could satisfy cravings for mac and cheese and would incorporate my farmers' market finds? Yes, please.
I made a few small changes, such as using a little less pasta and a little less squash (just fitting the recipe to suit what I already had). I also went with campanelle (because I had it on hand) in place of shells. And I tossed in some cherry tomatoes when the zucchini was almost done cooking. After tasting the pasta, I began thinking of other things I could have done with it, and I decided this dish would be delicious with some fresh corn scraped off the cob and maybe a little bit of fresh basil too. You can start with the base idea of pasta with ricotta and summer veggies and change it until it sounds like your perfect summer pasta dish.
Summer Veggies, Ricotta, And Campanelle (adapted from The Glorious Pasta of Italy)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
14 ounces summer squash and zucchini (about 2 to 3 small), ends trimmed and cut in 1/4-inch dice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
12 assorted cherry tomatoes, quartered
3/4 pound campanelle (or pasta of your choice)
1 1/2 cups ricotta (I used Maplebrook Farm)
1/2 cup grated parm
Bring generously salted water to a boil for pasta.
While water is heating, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, and add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 8 minutes, or until onion is softened.
Stir in the diced squash and salt.
Raise heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes, or until squash pieces are tender.
Stir in cherry tomatoes. Cover, and turn off heat to keep warm.
Cook pasta in boiling water according to manufacturer's instructions until al dente.
While pasta is cooking, drizzle remaining two tablespoons olive oil over ricotta, and season generously with pepper. Mix well.
Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, and drain pasta. Transfer the pasta to the saute pan, and gently toss to combine with veggies.
Fold in the ricotta and parmesan. Loosen the mixture with reserved pasta water as needed.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve warm.
(Cooled pasta can be refrigerated, stored in an airtight container, and reheated in microwave.)
And while we're on the subject of farm fresh veggies, did you know that Mass Farmers Markets is now offering a consumer membership program?
The consumer membership program directly supports local farmers markets, as well as the many amazing programs that Mass Farmers Markets manages to connect all types of communities to healthy local food while simultaneously supporting sustainable agriculture and small business.
Mass Farmers Markets also:
- Facilitates and pays farmers for $1 million in subsidized local food sales to low-income seniors and families.
- Works with markets to accept electronic food stamps to allow more residents access to fresh, healthy food and has generated to date an additional $120,000 in sales for farmers statewide.
- Pioneered the first Veggie Prescription program, which allows doctors who identify youth at risk for diet-related disease to write a prescription so that child, and his or her entire family, can eat an extra serving of healthy, fresh and local fruits and vegetables every day.
If you're interested in being a consumer member, just fill out the form on the Mass Farmers Markets website. You can even designate one-third of your membership fee to go to your local market. An individual membership is only $40 and includes a member button, car decal, market list, e-newsletter, and more.
The more members who join, the more money can be raised to help Mass. farmers and small businesses survive and guarantee the success of all of our favorite markets year after year.