Monday, August 23, 2010

Pasta with Summer Squash, Corn and Bacon

It’s been while since I’ve just given up and thrown what was left of the week’s fresh summer vegetables into an impromptu pasta or stir fry dish (although it looks like stir fry tonight: bok choy, cabbage, beans and broccoli). Therefore, I don’t have summer pasta fatigue just yet. I’m still enthusiastic to try a new vegetable sauté tossed with noodles. Of course, if the recipe also happens to be enhanced with cream and bacon, who can blame me?

The recipe I tried recently was in a stack of yellow summer squash recipes. It was quite simple, which I’m happy to read as “quick and easy” on these hot late summer days. It also promised to be flavorful, if a bit rich, since it was indeed enhanced by the cream and bacon alluded to above. The bounty from our CSA has come to the point, however, where using only one type of vegetable at a time seems a frivolous waste of a meal, not to mention a total bore. Though it made the dish even more yellow, I opted to add juicy kernels of fresh, sweet corn.

It turns out that rotini pasta not only looks good in yellow, but tastes great in yellow, too. You could use other kinds of pasta in this dish, but the point should be to trap the rich, thick sauce and sweet, creamy corn in the twists and folds of the noodle. I was thrilled with the flavor of the corn, which, of course, goes well with bacon and cream, but I was also very pleasantly surprised by the counterpoint its texture makes to the silky cooked squash and floppy pasta. The crisp bacon adds another nice texture, and since the squash and corn are cooked in the rendered bacon fat, its smoky flavor permeates every bite. (If you don’t want to use bacon, skip the bacon steps and sauté the squash and corn in about 2 tablespoons melted butter. More yellow!)

I served this dish with a simple cherry tomato and basil salad and garlic bread. The only thing missing was a great, crisp, well-chilled white wine, which not only would have tasted fabulous, but also would have been yellow. As long as the pasta looked and tasted so good in its matching yellow outfit, it was kind of a shame not to have the perfect coordinating accessory on hand. Even Harry was hoping for wine to go along with this dinner. Note to self: start buying wine by the case!

Pasta with Yellow Squash, Corn and Bacon
Adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine

6 ounces short-cut pasta, such as rotini or cavatappi
3 slices thick-cut bacon (or 4 slices of thinner bacon)
1 pound yellow summer squash (about 2 medium squash), quartered lengthwise and sliced
2 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked and silk removed
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup heavy cream
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

1. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until it is just a little bit more firm than you like to eat it. (It will cook a little bit more later.)

2. Cut the corn kernels from the cobs and set aside.

3. In a large skillet that has a lid (you’ll use the lid later), cook the bacon until it is well browned, turning to cook evenly. Remove from the skillet and set aside on paper towels to drain and cool. Remove all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan and return it to medium heat.

4. Add the squash, corn, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and salt. Stir well to combine. Cover and cook about 7 or 8 minutes or until the squash looks softened. Stir occasionally.

5. Uncover and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, or until most of the liquid in the pan has evaporated.

6. Chop the cooked bacon. Stir the bacon, cream, and pasta into the squash mixture. Cook and stir another 2 to 3 minutes or until the cream has thickened. Garnish with the parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Makes about 4 main-dish servings.

Other recipes like this one: Pasta with Kale, Summer Squash, Olives and Feta Cheese, Corn and Green Onion Tart with Bacon, Corn Chowder with Edamame

One year ago: Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes, Olives and Basil

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