Cooking Cove: Pasta Highlights End of Summer Bounty

By Barbara Beltrami

Now is the time to capitalize on summer’s abundance of vegetables and herbs, and what better way to do that than to use them in pasta sauces. It’s the time of year for a salad of Pasta Norma with tomatoes, eggplant and ricotta, pasta with pesto, potatoes and green beans or pasta with grilled vegetables. Any of them can be a first course served in small portions, a light summer starter or an accompaniment to anything on the barbecue. Don’t skimp on the veggies, and feel free to modify any of these recipes to accommodate the day’s harvest from your or your neighbor’s garden or farm stand.

Norma Pasta

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 clove of garlic

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, diced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 pound eggplant, peeled and diced

1 pound fusilli or cavatappi

1 large sprig of fresh basil, leaves chopped

6 ounces ricotta salata, diced


In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil and the whole garlic clove for about one minute. As soon as the garlic begins to release its aroma, add the tomatoes, salt and pepper; cook for about 10 minutes, until the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated, then add the eggplant to the pan, cover and cook for about 15 minutes over medium heat, until the eggplant is tender. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; when the pasta is almost ready, add the basil to the tomatoes and eggplant and stir; remove and discard garlic. Drain pasta and transfer to a serving bowl; toss with the sauce and ricotta salata and serve with a slightly chilled nero d’avola wine.

Pasta with pesto, potatoes, green beans

YIELD: Makes 4-6 servings


2 cups basil leaves, tightly packed

1/3 cup pignoli nuts

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/2 – 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1 pound linguine or fettuccine

1/2 pound potatoes, peeled, cooked, diced

1/4 pound fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths and cooked until tender


In bowl of electric food processor, combine basil, pignoli nuts, salt, pepper and garlic until mixture reaches a coarse, grainy texture; with the motor running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream, then add the cheese and stir just until combined. Cook pasta according to manufacturer’s directions; drain and reserve about half a cup – a cup of cooking water; transfer the pasta to a serving bowl, add the pesto, then add the reserved water, a little at a time, until the sauce is thick but not runny, toss to coat well, then add the apples ground and the beans and mix again before serving.

Grilled Vegetable Ziti

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


2 medium zucchini, cut in thirds lengthwise

2 bell peppers, seeded, seeded, quartered

1 large red or Vidalia onion, cut crosswise into half-inch slices

8-10 plum tomatoes, halved

Olive oil for brushing

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 pound ziti or penne

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, oregano and thyme

4 ounces crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese


On a large rimmed baking sheet, arrange the zucchini, peppers, onion and tomatoes; brush both sides with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Preheat grill to medium heat, then arrange vegetables on top, cover and cook, turning once, until tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes per side; cut vegetables into bite-sized pieces and set aside to keep warm. Cook pasta according to manufacturer’s directions, drain and place in large serving bowl; toss with vegetables and herbs, then sprinkle with crumbled cheese and toss lightly before serving.

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