Thursday, August 29, 2013

End of Summer Vegetable, Goat Cheese and Walnut Linguine

It's that time of year when the first signs of Fall make us turn our heads frantically, wondering when the seemingly never-ending entity of summer did, in fact, so abruptly commence. That first cool breeze, the turn of a single green leaf to yellow, actually wearing your summer cashmere. We wanted this to happen so badly—but now it's happening too fast. Did I even I eat Mr. Softie? Have I had sufficient lobster roll intake? Am I losing my summer vegetables!?

Sadly, yes—but not yet. So let's give one last salute to the bountiful season with this End of Summer Vegetable, Goat Cheese and Walnut Linguine, utilizing some of our summatime favs— tomatoes, corn, and zucchini—before diving head first into anything and everything pumpkin.

Hailing from Real Simple, this recipe is quick, easy, and foolproof. It's superiority lies in it's ability to exhibit that garden-fresh gusto thanks to the seasonal local vegetables; an unparalleled quality in another wise standard pasta.

The corn, oozing sweetness, pairs wonderfully with the crumbly cheese (think Mexican grilled corn and cojita), and the nutty walnuts give the pasta a lovely, roasted crunch. Zucchini slivers offer thin glimpses of this summer squash standout, and gently smashed tomatoes add a touch of acidity. Not enough for the entire dish, though: I substituted white wine for the pasta water, and then added a generous squeeze of lemon juice to finish.

They key to this pasta is to serve it immediately; while steam still clouds the bowl, and the goat cheese crumbles melt ever so softly into the silky linguine strands. With each forkful of a summer vegetable, warmly reminisce over a summer spent well-fed; before we begin the cycle once again in anticipation of the season that is to come.

End of Summer Vegetable, Goat Cheese and Walnut Linguine (derived from Real Simple)
Serves 4

3/4 pound whole-wheat linguine
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups fresh corn (from 2 ears)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 small zucchini (about 1 pound), cut into thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
3/4 cup white wine
juice of 1lemon
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (or feta and Parmesan)
Parsley, for garnish (optional)


1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, to al dente. 
2. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350° F. Place corn (inside it's husk) and walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, turning once, until walnuts are fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the corn (husked and kernels shaved off the cob), garlic, oregano, hot pepper flakes, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, tossing occasionally, until the corn is tender, 2 to 4 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes, zucchini, and white wine to the skillet. Cook over medium heat, gently tossing, until the liquid is slightly thickened and coats the pasta, 2 to 3 minutes (add more wine as needed to loosen the sauce). Add the al dente pasta into the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 more minutes. Juice the lemon over the pasta.
5. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the walnuts, and goat cheese, and parsley (if desired.)

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