Summer squash brightens up pasta dish

Daniel J. van Ackere/America's Test Kitchen via APThis Mediterranean-inspired side dish features pasta, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, basil, pine nuts and Parmesan.

A combination of pasta and summer squash results in a light, flavorful dish that’s full of color.

Zucchini and yellow squash together make for a more complex dish, but either may be used exclusively if desired.

We decided against peeling the squash, as the skin helped keep the pieces intact throughout the cooking process. Because squash contains so much liquid, we salted and drained it to keep our sauce from ending up watery and bland.

The salted squash also browned beautifully; just five minutes in a hot skillet gave a light char to each batch. To accompany the squash, we chose halved grape tomatoes, fresh basil and pine nuts. Cherry tomatoes can be substituted for the grape tomatoes.

We finished the sauce with balsamic vinegar to give it a kick and paired the sauce with farfalle, since its nooks and crannies easily trapped the flavor-packed ingredients.

If farfalle is unavailable, campanelle and fusilli are good substitutes.

We prefer using kosher salt because residual grains can be easily wiped away from the squash; if using table salt, be sure to reduce all of the salt amounts in the recipe by half.


Start to finish: 1 hour

Servings: 6

2 pounds zucchini and/or summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2-inch-thick

Kosher salt and pepper

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 pound farfalle

12 ounces grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Grated Parmesan cheese

Toss the squash with 1 tablespoon salt, and let drain in colander for 30 minutes. Pat squash dry with paper towels, and carefully wipe away any residual salt.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add half of squash, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and slightly charred, 5-7 minutes, reducing heat if skillet begins to scorch; transfer to a large plate. Repeat with 1 tablespoon oil and remaining squash; transfer to plate.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in squash, and cook until heated through, about 30 seconds.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt, and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot.

Add the squash mixture, tomatoes, basil, pine nuts, vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and adjust consistency with reserved cooking water as needed. Serve with Parmesan.

Nutrition information per serving: 463 calories; 154 calories from fat; 17 g fat (2 g saturated, 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 177 mg sodium; 65 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 13 g protein.