This weekend, the early crop of summer veg made an appearance at the farmer's market: hooray! So I just wanted to eat a massive plate of vegetables for dinner. Easy enough.
I was totally going for a pseudo-Greek tone with all the lemon zest and oregano here. If only I'd had some ouzo to deglaze with! On the other hand, I haven't ever really had enough ouzo to know whether that would backfire. Hmm.
Penne with green beans, summer squash, oregano, and lemon
hot pepper if you want it
dried oregano (or maybe fresh--I just never have any)
dry vermouth/other deglazing device
a lemon (juice & zest)
pasta of choice
First, put a pot of water on high heat. Boil your pasta at an appropriate time in the cooking process. If you don't have penne, you can use mostaccioli, rigatoni, gemelli, or rotini: chunky pastas that more or less echo the shape of the beans.
Warm some olive oil over medium-high heat in a sauté pan. Add your preferred amount of minced shallot or garlic (I like plenty, shockingly enough), and some chopped hot pepper if spicy pasta appeals to you. While things are softening, wash a couple big handfuls of green beans, top and tail them, and cut them into bite-size pieces.
Add the beans to the softened aromatics. Season with oregano, salt, and pepper; toss; cook.
Chop your summer squash into appropriate pieces. I had a medium-sized yellow crookneck squash, so I cut it into quarter-moon slices. If you happen to have any tiny adorable baby squash, by all means just cut little round slices. Throw the pieces into the pan with the beans; toss; cook some more.
While you're waiting, wash, destem, and chop a big armful of spinach. If you want to use sturdier greens, that's fine too. Set your chopped greens aside for a minute.
After a few minutes, the squash pieces will sweat out their moisture and begin to develop a bit of golden crust. At this point, you may want to deglaze the pan. Just pour in a little dry vermouth (or whatever dry white wine you may be drinking, or even a little water or oil) and quickly stir, scraping up any dark brown sticky bits from the bottom of the pan. If you're using sturdy greens, add them to the pan and let them cook in the tasty business for a few minutes as well. It's all good.
By now, your vegetables should be cooked through and your pasta should be done. Toss your tender greens in top of the cooked veg; add drained pasta. Turn off the heat and let everything sit while you wash the pasta pot. When you come back, the greens will be nicely wilted. Yay!
Zest half a lemon into the pasta; squeeze out the juice over the pan. (Use your hand to catch the seeds.) Grind on some additional black pepper, toss, and serve.
Delicious garnishes to add:
- fresh basil or parsley
- grated parmesan/other grating cheese
- crumbled feta or goat cheese, for additional pseudo-Greek flavor
- toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds
- more lemon zest! All the lemon! Hooray!
Voila: lemon oregano awesome beginning of summer pasta!
Yes, I know it's not really summer yet anywhere else--but it's coming on fast here in CA, and you can always file this back in your brain for a month or two, right?