Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer Pasta with Goat Cheese

Wunderground tells me that today in my neighborhood, Tierrasanta, the temperature will reach 92°.  As I write this I've got a large glass of iced coffee on my desk, my desk fan is circulating, blowing my hair--and hopefully sweat--from my face. And I'm writing about a way to create a summery pasta dish with a cream sauce you don't have to cook.

The sauce, that is. You do have to cook the pasta. But that's it. And that hot pasta will make your sauce for you and you toss together the ingredients.

For my summer pasta, I first minced a couple of cloves of garlic, added it to a small bowl, and then added a pinch of sea salt and several tablespoons of one of my favorite olive oils. I wanted to let that sit for an hour or so to let the garlic infuse its flavors into the oil.

Once I was ready for dinner I put a big pot of water on the stove to come to the boil. While I waited, I halved a bunch of cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives. I still have those green onions, so I diced one up and set it aside. I have a pot of gorgeous big-leaved basil growing on the counter behind my kitchen sink, so I cut off several leaves, then rolled them up to chiffonade them into aromatic thin slivers. I seeded and removed the membrane from a serrano chile before dicing that. Then I added a little sherry vinegar to the garlicky oil.

I was ready--except for one last item. Goat cheese.

The goat cheese would pull the dish together. Yes, it would be wonderful without it. But when the goat cheese hits the steam from the freshly cooked pasta it dissolves into tangy creaminess. You could do the same with a fresh mozzarella--but you wouldn't get that distinctive flavor the goat cheese imparts. So I go for the goat.

From this...

To this... Just by stirring.
Do you really need a recipe for this? Nah. Just start with your favorite dry pasta. Me? I really enjoy DeLallo biodynamic whole wheat pastas, like these shells. You'll also want tomatoes, kalamata olives, onions or chives, fresh basil, garlicky olive oil with just a little acid from a good wine vinegar (or try lemon juice), and if you like heat, a chile or red chile flakes.

I also like to add artichoke hearts or roasted shrimp, toasted pine nuts or walnut pieces, marinated eggplant or sweet peppers or fresh peas. There's just a world of options out there. The point is you can create a healthy, delicious meal for yourself in short order with little heat or effort even when the temps are soaring and the only thing that sounds good is a popsicle.

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