Summer Bucatini with Buttery Zucchini Sauce

I love trying new ways to use summer zucchini. Making pasta sauce out of grated zucchini is absolute genius! This dish gobbled up all of the zucchini that I received in my CSA share- amazing.

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. I used bucatini (our favorite) instead of spaghetti. I also modified the proportions and method. It was a vegetarian crowd-pleaser. Super quick to prepare too.

Yield: Serves 5 to 6

  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for pasta water, and to taste
  • 16 ounces (1 pound, 450 grams) bucatini, cooked al dente (I used De Cecco)(can substitute with spaghetti, linguini, or fettuccine)
  • 2 cups (470 ml) pasta water, reserved
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds (about 1100 to 1300 grams) zucchini, trimmed, coarsely grated (I used 3 large zucchini- about 8 cups grated)
  • 12 tablespoons (170 grams, 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1 generous cup (90 grams) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons (about 2 large handfuls)
  1. Mince the garlic cloves in a food processor. Set aside.
  2. Coarsely grate the zucchini in a food processor, emptying the bowl as necessary. Set aside.
  3. Melt butter in a large, deep skillet or pot over medium-high heat. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.)
  4. Add the garlic, stirring it into the butter for one minute.
  5. Add the zucchini, salt, and red pepper. Cook the zucchini, stirring from time to time, for 13 to 15 minutes. It will first let off a puddle liquid, the liquid will cook off, and the zucchini will become soft and concentrated. If the zucchini begins to brown, reduce the heat slightly.
  6. Stir frequently for 2 more minutes until it reaches an almost spreadable consistency.
  7. Meanwhile, boil your pasta in well-salted water until it’s 1 minute shy of fully cooked. Before you drain it, reserve 2 cup of the pasta cooking water and set it aside. (I cooked my pasta for 9 minutes.)
  8. Pour in 1 cup of the reserved pasta water into the zucchini and butter mixture scraping up any browned bits.
  9. Add the drained pasta, and cook together for 2 minutes. Use tongs to pull up the zucchini butter sauce into the pasta strands, tossing frequently, and adding some or all of the remaining pasta water as needed to loosen.
  10. Taste and adjust seasonings, as desired.
  11. Incorporate a generous half of the parmesan and basil and mix, then transfer to a serving bowl, if desired. (I served the pasta from my cast iron pan!)
  12. Garnish with remaining parmesan and basil. Serve.

Summer Corn Pasta with Sausage & Basil

This is a crowd-pleasing and quick summer dish. It was a wonderful meal served with a giant green salad. The original recipe notes that any summer vegetable, or a combination, can be used instead of the fresh corn. Chopped tomatoes, broccoli, summer squash, or even green beans would work.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I modified the proportions. Great!

Yield: Serves 6

  • 16 oz rigatoni
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs basil, plus 1 cup leaves for serving
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper (or other mild red pepper flakes)
  • fresh corn kernels from 3 large ears
  • 5 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 oz (about 1/2 cup) freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high.
  3. Add sausage and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, 6–8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a plate.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and cook sliced garlic in same pot, stirring occasionally, until light golden around edges, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add basil sprigs and Aleppo pepper; cook, stirring, until basil is wilted, about 1 minute.
  6. Place an ear of corn upright in a medium sized bowl. Use a knife to cut off the kernels. (The bowl will prevent the kernels from flying all over the counter.)
  7. Add corn and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water to the pot and cook, stirring often, until corn is mostly tender, about 3 minutes.
  8. Stir in pasta and 1 cup pasta cooking water.
  9. Add butter and cook, stirring, until butter is melted and sauce is smooth and creamy.
  10. Add the Parmesan in several additions, stirring after each addition until sauce is smooth.
  11. Return sausage to pot and cook until flavors meld, about 1 minute. If needed, add additional pasta cooking liquid to loosen the sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  12. Place in a serving bowl or individual shallow bowls. Top with basil leaves and more Parmesan and serve.

Simple Strawberry Cocktails

After picking eight heaping quarts of beautiful strawberries, I had to try a couple of new strawberry cocktails. I must say that it is difficult to make a strawberry cocktail that I would prefer to my favorite Strawberry-Basil Martini and (close second) The Union Square Strawberry Cocktail. Thankfully, we had plenty of strawberries and beautiful evenings to be able to enjoy all of them! 🙂

Both of these cocktails are incredibly simple and quick to prepare. The first is a Strawberry Gin & Tonic- perfect because one of my favorite summer cocktails is a classic gin and tonic. The recipe is from hometoheather.com. The second is a Spicy Strawberry Margarita. My husband made it as a celebratory cocktail on my birthday. ❤ He garnished the rim of the glass with a mixture of coarse salt and chile powder. The recipe was adapted from vinepair.com, contributed by Natalie Migliarini. Tasty and refreshing.

Strawberry Gin & Tonic

Yield: 1 cocktail

  • 1 shot gin
  • 1 wedge lime
  • tonic water, to fill
  • 1 mashed strawberry
  • lime wedge or slice, or strawberry, for garnish
  • ice
  1. Use a highball glass and fill about ¼ full with ice.
  2. Pour the gin over the ice.
  3. Add your mashed berry, squeeze the lime wedge and fill with tonic water.
  4. Garnish with lime or strawberry and serve.

Spicy Strawberry Margarita:

Yield: 1 cocktail

  • 1.5 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce of lime juice
  • 1/2 serrano or jalapeño chile, seeded (if desired), chopped or sliced into rings
  • 3 strawberries, chopped
  • 1/2 ounce agave nectar
  • salt and/or Tajín or chile powder, for the rim
  • 1 cup ice
  1. Rim a rocks glass with salt and/or Tajín or chile powder.
  2. Chop peppers and strawberries and add all ingredients into shaker, shaking to chill and combine.
  3. Pour chilled mixture, including the ice, into rocks glass.
  4. Garnish with a fresh strawberry, if desired.

Garlic Aioli Potato & Egg Salad

Making homemade mayonnaise has been a challenging endeavor for me. It is always described as “quick and easy” but that has not been the case in my kitchen! This time- with a little bit of a struggle- I finally had a successful result. 🙂

The garlic aioli base of this potato salad was very creamy and flavorful. The diced hard boiled eggs added even more richness to the finished dish. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I modified the method and proportions. The original recipe suggests making the salad at least an hour prior to serving to allow the flavors to mellow.

This dish could also be made with store-bought mayonnaise as a shortcut! Skip steps 3 and 4 and add garlic and lemon juice to the mayo.

Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, at room temperature, more as needed (I used Meyer lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T sour cream
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) finely chopped celery
  • 2 T finely chopped red onion
  • 1 pound small waxy white or yellow potatoes, roughly about the same size (I used tiny yellow potatoes)
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • finely chopped chives, cilantro, or parsley, for garnish
  1. Place the 2 whole eggs in a small pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat; immediately remove from heat and cover for 8 minutes. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water to cool. Peel and dice small.
  2. Meanwhile, combine grated garlic, salt and lemon juice in a blender, and pulse a few times to combine. (I used a Vitamix.)
  3. Pulse in the egg yolks. (I incorporated the egg yolks briefly at the highest speed.)
  4. With motor running, set to medium-low speed (3 on a Vitamix), very slowly drizzle (drip!) in olive oil until completely incorporated and mayonnaise is thick. (I covered the opening with a paper towel to prevent any mess.)(I initially began this process with 1 egg yolk and the mixture separated. I was able to bring it back to a creamy state by slowing adding the broken mixture to an additional egg yolk prior to slowly adding the rest of the olive oil in the blender.)
  5. Scrape the mayonnaise into a bowl and fold in sour cream.
  6. Fold in the chopped celery and red onion.
  7. Place whole unpeeled potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then generously salt the water. Cook until potatoes are just tender, 15 to 25 minutes depending upon size. (I cooked the potatoes for 20 minutes.)
  8. Drain and cut the potatoes into 1 1/2-inch chunks as soon as you can handle them.
  9. Transfer hot potatoes to a large bowl and toss with diced boiled eggs and 2/3 of the mayonnaise.
  10. Let cool to room temperature, or refrigerate until ready to use.
  11. Just before serving, toss with some of the remaining dressing to taste (if desired). (I reserved the remaining mayonnaise for another use.)
  12. Season with black pepper and add more salt, if necessary, to taste. Sprinkle with chopped herbs. Serve.

Corn & Ricotta Sformato

Now that it’s the very very tail end of corn season, I have a couple fresh corn recipes to share. I hope I’m not too late. :/ We ate this cheesy dish for dinner but it would be wonderful for brunch as well. I also think that it could be prepared with frozen corn (gasp!) and served as a holiday side dish.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Clare de Boer. I used Kosher salt and modified the proportions. I also modified the baking dish (to have more crispy crust) and baking time. The lemony basil oil topping added a bright contrast to the indulgent and delicious dish.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 6 ears fresh corn, kernels removed (about 5 cups kernels), cobs discarded
  • 2 tsp coarse salt, plus more to taste
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups fresh whole milk ricotta
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan, divided (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 4 large eggs, whites and yolks separated
  • coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/3 packed cup fresh basil leaves (about 20 leaves)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon)
  1. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the corn kernels and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer half the kernels to a food processor and purée with 2 tablespoons olive oil. (I used a Vitamix.)
  4. Transfer the corn kernels and puréed corn to a large bowl and let cool, about 30 minutes.
  5. Heat the oven to 450 degrees, preferably on convection.
  6. When the corn mixture has cooled, add the ricotta, heavy cream, crème fraîche/sour cream, 1 cup Parmesan and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt; season to taste with more salt, if desired.
  7. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks on high speed, 1 to 2 minutes.
  8. Stir the yolks into the ricotta mixture until combined then gently fold in the whites, working delicately to avoid deflating.
  9. Rub the sides and crannies of a 6-by-10-inch oval or 8-by-8-inch square (or similar 2-inch-deep) baking dish with a knob of butter. (I used a 8×10-inch oval dish.) Add 2 to 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan, knocking it around the baking dish to coat the entire thing, then follow with a few grinds of pepper.
  10. Pour the ricotta batter into the dish. Bake for 25 minutes and then remove from oven and top with another 3 tablespoons Parmesan.  Continue to bake until the cheese has browned and the sformata has set in the center, about 5 additional minutes, a total of 30 to 40 minutes.
  11. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the basil with the lemon juice and a pinch of salt, then stir in the remaining 1/4 cup oil.
  12. Just before serving, top the warm sformata with the remaining grated Parmesan, drizzle with basil oil and serve.

Cucumber, Basil & Lime Gimlet

This refreshing summer cocktail was another way to use my beautiful basil and special homegrown cucumbers from a friend. There is still time to enjoy one! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from liquor.com. It is an adaptation of a classic gin gimlet which is composed of gin, lime juice and simple syrup.

Yield: One cocktail

  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka or gin
  • 2 1/4-inch slices cucumber, peeled
  • 2 fresh basil leaves. plus more for garnish
  • 1 ounce lemonade
  • 1/4 to 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, to taste
  1. Muddle the basil and cucumber in a shaker.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and ice and shake.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass over ice.
  4. Garnish with a basil leaf. Serve.

Shrimp & Basil Stir-Fry

My herb garden has been beyond fabulous this year. I wanted to make sure that I made this dish before my beautiful basil faded away.

This dish was described as being “more addictive than Doritos.” 🙂 The recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Andy Baraghani. I don’t usually follow a recipe precisely, but did on this occasion because I had never used Fresno chilies. Oops. The dish was tasty but beyond spicy. I regret not tasting my chilies for heat intensity. I will certainly do that next time, and will follow the recipe as written with milder chilies or remove the seeds and ribs for spicier chilies.

The spicy-sweet sauce was delicious and I still enjoyed it. This dish also comes together very quickly and is perfect for a weeknight meal. We ate it over brown Basmati rice with tomato slices on the side. The tomatoes really helped offset the heat. 🙂

Yield: Serves 3 to 4

  • 3 Fresno chiles, coarsely chopped (seeds and ribs removed, to taste)
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 T fish sauce
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 T vegetable or grapeseed oil, divided
  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined, patted dry
  • 2 cups basil leaves (about 1 bunch)
  • lime wedges, for serving
  • 1 cup of rice (cooked in 2 cups stock or water), for serving
  1. Blend chiles, garlic, sugar, fish sauce, salt, and 3 T oil in a blender until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
  2. Transfer marinade to a medium bowl and add shrimp; toss to coat. Let sit 10 minutes.
  3. Heat remaining 1 T oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high.
  4. Using tongs, just when oil begins to smoke and working in batches if needed, add shrimp, leaving marinade behind, and cook, turning once, until lightly charred around the edges, about 1 minute per side.
  5. Remove pan from heat. Add basil and toss vigorously until basil is wilted.
  6. Transfer shrimp mixture to a platter. Serve with rice and lime wedges alongside.

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