So much to say.
It never ceases to sadden me that right as summer’s bounty arrives in the form of roadside stands, all-you-can-pick strawberries, overflowing CSA boxes and tables of produce piled high at the farmer’s market, I can’t seem to find more than 10 minutes to spend in my kitchen.
July – and even the end of June – passed by in a blur. The last 6 weeks have had us running from baseball games to book club to band practice (and left me pondering why we only engage in hobbies beginning with the letter “b“). Weekends have been packed with quick trips out of town, concerts, birthday celebrations (for both our nation and yours truly) and time with friends and family that we don’t see often enough.
I’m not complaining, I promise. We’re having boatloads of fun and I’d much rather be busy than bored. But while there have been some outstanding meals (a french toast recipe that I promise to share with you very soon, fantastic shredded pork sandwiches, a tomato panzanella thrown together quickly and eaten at the baseball field, and of course, all things grilled), I find myself crawling into bed at the end of each whirlwind day and thinking about how very much I miss my kitchen. And also a clean house. And my blog. And you, faithful friends and readers, who I know have been stopping by to check in – waiting patiently for a new post.
As I sat through meeting after meeting (after meeting!) today, my mind drifted to the absolute gift of a night that lay ahead of me. No baseball. No book club. Only band practice – which meant that two of the three of us would actually be present in the house! My goals for the night: stop by the grocery store. Make dinner. Put up a new blog post. Clean this godforsaken mess of a house. Make cupcakes to bring to the last baseball game tomorrow. At present, it’s 9:35 pm – 2 1/2 down, 2 1/2 to go. It’s totally going to happen.
You may already have taken note, but I am quite the fan of simple and quick weeknight pasta dinners. A few weeks ago I made a buttery, garlicky zucchini saute and as the zucchinis have continued to roll in from our CSA I decided to use the side dish as inspiration for a pasta. Wanting to add a protein, but one that would cook quickly, I included shrimp. I picked up some mint at the store for an ice cream recipe that I’m planning to tackle later this week, and decided to go a bit mediterranean and add a bit of the mint and some feta cheese to the pasta as well. And – like I even need to tell you this – I simmered a bit of wine in with everything as well.
First things first: I set a pot of salted water to boil and poured myself a glass of wine to sip on.
I cut zucchini into pieces roughly the length and about half the width of the rotini pasta noodles that I used for this dish. After trimming the ends of the zucchini, I cut each one into pieces roughly 3 inches long, then I stood each zucchini cut-side up and sliced it into cross sections.
Next, I thinly sliced 4 cloves of garlic (if this seems like an overwhelming or tedious task, you can mince it and I won’t tell anyone).
Noodles were dumped into the boiling water, and zucchini and a little more than half of the garlic was sauteed with some butter, salt and pepper for about 7 minutes – until cooked, but not limp. Wine was sipped. The zucchini was then spooned onto a plate and set aside. Wine was sipped. In the same pan, I added a bit more butter and the rest of the garlic, along with some shrimp and more salt and pepper. Then I sipped some wine. After about three minutes the shrimp were mostly cooked, my glass of wine was half empty, and I added back in the zucchini along with a generous glug of white wine… and just a little more butter.
The shrimp and zucchini simmered for a few minutes, the pasta was drained, and everything was stirred together with a sprinkling of fresh mint and a good amount of crumbled feta cheese. And I finished that glass of wine while enjoying a plate of pasta cooked exactly to my liking paired alongside fabulous conversation with the smartest, funniest, most intelligent 8-year old I know.
Shrimp and Zucchini Pasta with Mint and Feta
- 1/2 lb rotini or penne pasta
- 1 lb zucchini or summer squash
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 3 Tbs. butter
- 1 lb uncooked shrimp (thawed, deveined and shelled)
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2/3 Tbs chopped fresh mint (about 5-6 leaves)
Bring a pot of salted water to boil, and cook pasta to al dente.
Meanwhile, cut zucchini into pieces roughly 3 inches long by 1/2 inch wide. Do this by trimming the ends of the zucchini, then cutting each one into pieces about 3 inches long. Stand each zucchini cut-side up and slice it into cross sections.
In a saute pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter and about 2/3 of the garlic. Cook until garlic begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add zucchini and generous amounts of salt and pepper and cook for about 7 minutes, until softened but not limp. Remove zucchini from pan and set aside.
In the same pan, add another tablespoon of butter and the remainder of the garlic. Again, saute for about 2 minutes until butter begins to bubble and garlic begins to soften and smell amazing. Add the shrimp along with a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes, until mostly cooked through.
Add zucchini back into pan, along with wine and the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Simmer over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.
Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta and add to saute pan with shrimp and zucchini. Add feta and mint. Stir to combine. If needed, add some of the remaining pasta water (about 2 tablespoons at a time) until sauce reaches desired consistency. (I didn’t need to add any pasta water after cooking, but I did add some into the leftovers before storing. I always notice that what seems like a perfect pasta right after cooking is a bit dry after a night in the fridge). Taste for seasoning, adding any salt and pepper if necessary.