17 July 2014

Cherry Tomato, Zucchini & Brie Pasta

Cherry tomato season is finally upon us!  May the feasting commence!!!  Ever since I was a little girl picking veggies in our family garden, I have looked forward to the first fresh tomatoes of the year with the same anticipation most people reserve Black Friday.  (Red...Wednesday?  Why not!)  Now my hubs is pretty darn terrific.  Sure I've mentioned his culinary talents and yes, he is now officially a doctor.  But there's a lot more to my man than that.  For instance, he is also an avid reader, loves kids and has a die-hard fanbase in the online world of Tetris.  But last week he topped the cake by bringing me the very first ripe tomato from our rooftop community garden.  That's one heck of a man.

We came to Minneapolis for his radiology residency, and let me tell you he is absolutely LOVING his long white coat and all the responsibilities that come with it.  For the past month he has been working swing and night shifts in the emergency room (now that's one entertaining 4th of July).  It also means that I have been flying solo for supper as of late with lots of little easy-peasy meals that have felt a bit basic to blog.  And though this recipe is incredibly simple, it is just too good to keep to myself.

If you enjoy tomatoes and zucchini even half as much as I do, you know they are in full swing at the moment.  Our CSA provided us with a gorgeous stripped zucchini last week that was too beautiful to be shredded for a fritter or quick bread.  Therefore, I decided to honor its beauty through a partnership with zesty garlic, creamy brie and of course those fresh cherry tomatoes which I so adore.

We have had some amazing grilling over the past couple months out on the rooftop barbecue (next to the garden...talk about the best roof ever) with great new friends and views.  But around this time every year, I really start craving pasta.  It can be hot, it can be cold...as long as there's a tender, chewy noodle around I'm a happy camper.  And while this particular dish was served up hot, there is absolutely no reason it wouldn't make a great cold salad at a cookout.

The concept of this dish is super simple and clean, keeping in line with the ingredients.  Freshly grilled zucchini, tomatoes and garlic are tossed with whole wheat pasta and diced brie for a quick, light dinner that is more vegetable than noodle.  I love making this a one-bowl meal by adding in a few ounces of grilled and diced chicken breast, but it would be a wonderful vegetarian dish on its own.  The juices from the zucchini and tomatoes coat the pasta with lovely flavor, and the slowly melting brie oozes its way in amongst everything else in the bowl.  No need for a sauce with all that natural deliciousness.

Enough noodles to satisfy my mid-summer craving and so many veggies it makes the eyes pop.  More pasta-ish really, and just perfect for a solo summer supper.

Cherry Tomato, Zucchini & Brie Pasta (1 serving)
  • 1 small zucchini (about 1 cup prepped)
  • 1/2 c cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 oz brie, cubed
  • 2 oz short whole wheat pasta (rotini, penne, fusilli)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 4 oz diced chicken breast, cooked (optional)

Fill a medium saucepan with water, salt generously and set over high heat.  

Cut the zucchini into 1/2 inch slices, then halve or quarter the slices to make bite-sized pieces. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half.  Slice the garlic into very thin slices, then set your cutting board aside.  When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta to the water and cook according to directions.  

Place a medium saute pan over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the zucchini and cook for 3 minutes, then add the tomatoes and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper, then cook until the tomatoes are soft and browned, but not falling apart (about 6 minutes).  While the vegetables cook, drain the pasta and transfer back to the pot.

When all the vegetables are well browned, gently transfer to the pot with the pasta (along with the chicken, if desired).  Gently stir to combine, being careful to keep your tomatoes intact.  Add the brie and stir once or twice more, then transfer to a pasta bowl.  Serve immediately with a glass of gentle red or refreshing white wine. 

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