With the arrival of “spring” here in the Northwest, I have started receiving an organic produce basket every week. It is sort of like having the farmers market delivered to your doorstop. I just make up a recipe based on the contents, and have found that the diverse produce makes it fun to do some spontaneous cooking again.
Last week the standouts for me were a pint of sweet cherry tomatoes, fresh garlic and a pound of bright yellow patty pan squash. I pulled some pancetta and aged Parmesan from the fridge, and pasta from the cupboard, (all good staples to have around) and threw together this dinner in less than 15 minutes start to finish.
The papardelle was a natural choice for it’s thick chewy texture to stand up to the chunks of squash and absorb all of the garlicky flavor. I added heat with red pepper flakes, and the cheese and a dash of ½ and ½ mellowed out the garlic. I served a big bowl of barely cooked fresh spinach on the side.
Pappardelle with patty pan squash
-1lb great quality papardelle pasta
-1Tbs of olive oil
-4oz of pancetta, chopped
-4-6 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
-½ tsp of crushed red pepper flakes, (or to taste)
-½ lb of patty pan squash, cut into 1” chunks
-1 pint cherry tomatoes
-2 Tbs of half-and-half
-Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
-½ cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1) While bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil, gently heat a large sauté pan over medium heat.
2) Add the pancetta to the pan, and let it cook, gently stirring for about 3-5 minutes.
3) You want the pancetta to render it’s fat, leaving the pork golden and crispy. When the pancetta has reached this stage, add the olive oil and the garlic, and gently cook, making sure that you do not burn the garlic.
4) Add the cherry tomatoes and the red pepper flakes, and continue to cook for a few minutes over medium heat. When the tomatoes start to look softened, add the patty pan squash, and let it just cook through.
5) Add the half-and-half, season with salt, and let it keep cooking while you tend to the pasta.
6) Meanwhile, you should be cooking the papardelle until just al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving about a ½ cup of the cooking water.
7) Add the pasta to the squash and tomato mixture, and gently toss to combine everything. If the pasta is dry, add the reserved pasta water a little at a time. Before moving to a serving platter, make sure that the pasta is seasoned with enough salt, and toss with the fresh parsley.
8) After you have moved the pasta to the serving dish, top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.