Pasta Prima Dona

A confession:  I dislike pasta without sauce. And no, olive oil doesn’t count as sauce. For me, pasta, so long as it isn’t freshly made, is a mere vessel for something more. It’s the strong foundation that beckons for more complex flavor profiles. Yet this time of year, the though of a heavy tomato sauce feels totally inappropriate. This pasta walks that line, and does so quite elegantly.

Many years ago, I came across a recipe for pasta primavera in a dated issue of Cooking Light. This is a very, very lose interpretation of that recipe. It’s fresh, simple, and a perfect showcase of the season’s finest flavor offerings and has a hint of a sauce to satisfy my pickiness, thanks to the tomatoes. More importantly, it is light enough to fulfill carb cravings during the dog days of summer.

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1 tablespoon oil
1 serving pasta of your choosing
1 clove garlic, chopped
¼ cup chopped red onions
½ cup heirloom grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup chopped summer squash
¼ cup green onions, sliced
1 ½ cup spinach
¼ cup feta
Handful of basil
Red pepper flakes (optional)

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente. Drain and reserve ¼ cup cooking liquid.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook until nearly browned. Season with salt and pepper. Add red onion. Cook one minute. Reduce heat to medium.

Add tomatoes and summer squash. Cook until tomatoes start to get soft, about 4 minutes. Add green onions. Cook 2 minutes or until tender. Add reserved cooking liquid to the skillet along with spinach. Cook spinach until softened and bright green.

Toss in pasta, feta, basil, and red pepper flakes. Serve.

Soundtrack: Songza Women of Jazz

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