when i was little, every year my family would spend a week or two on cape cod, usually in mid-august. besides swimming in the ocean and hunting for periwinkles at the water line on the big rocks in the harbor, one of my favorite memories was of the ‘tennis court movies’.
the ‘tennis court movies’ were, basically what they sound like: movies played outdoors after dark on sunday nights, on the wall at the edge of the tennis courts. as dusk descended, everyone from the neighborhood would bring their chairs, blankets, and snacks to the tennis courts and set up their spot, much as they had at the beach earlier that day.
to be honest, i don’t actually remember much about any of the movies that we saw. what i do remember is how excited i would be to finally be able to wear my warm, cozy sweatshirt and sweatpants again, after seemingly endless weeks of heat, even at night. the combination of it being later in the summer and being close to the water meant that it actually got to be a little bit chilly at night. and i loved it.
as i sit here now, many years later, indoors but with the windows wide open, i’m reminded of those chilly summer nights. the heat wave of the past few weeks is mercifully taking a break, at least up here in coastal maine, and i’m loving that i had to change into pants and a long sleeve shirt earlier this evening.
summer’s not over yet, though, and we have the piles of zucchini and corn at the farmers’ markets to prove it. here, i added them to pasta, with a few simple embellishments: lemon, garlic, and pine nuts to add some subtle layers of flavor and fresh mozzarella and basil, because obviously.
this end of summer vegetable pasta is perfect for this in-between time: not only is it full of fresh summer flavors, but also it comes together quickly, which is helpful whether you’re savoring the last few moments of summer or trying to keep your head above water as the next school year begins. no matter what the temperature where you are, i hope you have a chance to enjoy this end of summer vegetable pasta.
- 2 large or 4 small zucchini
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 – 5 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 ears of fresh corn, shucked
- ½ lb. (227 g.) pasta (see notes)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
- zest and juice from half a lemon
- 4 oz. (113 g.) fresh mozzarella (packed in water), diced
- several large fresh basil leaves, torn into thin strips
- freshly grated hard italian cheese, such as pecorino romano, parmesan, or romano, for serving
- cut the zucchini lengthwise, either in half or in quarters, depending on how thick it is. cut the planks into ¾” (2 cm) pieces. add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat. sauté for 8 – 10 minutes, turning zucchini pieces several times, until all/most of the sides on each piece are golden brown. add the garlic and stir constantly for 30 seconds to one minute, until the garlic is fragrant and just barely changing color. remove from heat.
- bring a large pot of water to boil. add the ears of corn and boil for 4 minutes. remove the corn from the water but do not drain the water or remove from heat. set ears of corn aside until cool enough to handle.
- return the water to a boil and add the pasta. cook as directed. drain pasta (you can discard the water now) and return to the pot. immediately toss pasta with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
- when the corn is cool enough to handle, use a sharp knife to remove the kernels from the cob.
- add the zucchini, garlic, corn, pine nuts, lemon zest and juice, and remaining tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to the pot with the pasta. stir thoroughly to combine. add the fresh mozzarella and stir again, taking care not to completely smash and melt the cheese (unless you prefer it that way!).
- serve pasta topped with fresh basil and pass pecorino romano (or other hard italian cheese).
you could also grill the corn and/or zucchini instead of boiling/sautéing, respectively. if you grill the zucchini, simply sauté the garlic by itself in olive oil in a small pan for 30 seconds to one minute.
as the pictures indicate, i used angel hair when i made this recipe. in doing so, i reminded myself how much easier short pasta shapes are to work with, in terms of getting the other ingredients evenly distributed around. feel free to use your favorite shape/length.