It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.
I absolutely love this pasta dish from Noble Pig. The ingredients are quite simple–pasta, either fresh or frozen, summer squash and bit of cheese and cream. But when these ingredients are pulled all together the results are truly delicious. The secret is the combination of cream and parmesan cheese combined with bright and tangy lemon zest. It is unexpected yet so welcome. And as an added bonus you truly get a balanced meal in a single dish thanks in part to a generous amount of squash. What a perfect end of the week meal. Enjoy!
CREAMY RAVIOLI w/ SQUASH, LEMON & CHIVES
16 to 18 ounces cheese ravioli
1 Tablespoon olive
1 shallot, chopped
3 summer squash (zucchini and/or yellow squash; about 1-1/2 pounds), thinly sliced
Kosher salt and black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the squash and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to the skillet.
- Cook, tossing often, until the vegetables are just beginning to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the cream and lemon zest and cook until the vegetables are tender and the cream is slightly thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the squash mixture, grated cheese and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water to the cooked ravioli and toss gently to coat. Add additional reserved water if the sauce is too dry.
- Serve sprinkled with the chives.
Here is a twist on a traditional pasta salad that I’ve adapted from Savory Simple. Grilled vegetables are the featured ingredients of this dish; I’ve used colorful bell peppers, fresh corn, leeks and two types of squash. A light grill gives them a slightly smoking and charred flavor without overpowering the dish. Kielbasa adds protein and additional flavor to the salad. And it is all built upon a bed of orzo. If you prefer you can use another small pasta. With the exception of the yellow and zucchini squash, the vegetables are all grilled whole so allow them to cool slightly before attempting to slice them.
The salad tastes best when eaten at room temperature so if you make it ahead of time—which you can easily do–simply allow it to sit outside of the refrigerator for half an hour before serving. The salad is substantial enough to be a meal unto itself on a hot summer evening or can liven up a buffet table. And since this is barbecue season, why not make a bowl of this salad for your next backyard event?
GRILLED KIELBASA & VEGETABLE ORZO SALAD
1½ cups orzo
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon kosher salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large green pepper
1 large yellow pepper
1 large red pepper
1 yellow squash, sliced in half lengthwise
1 zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise
1 ear fresh corn on the cob
1 link kielbasa, or other Polish sausage
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the orzo according to package instructions and then drain.
- Place the cooked orzo in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Preheat a grill to medium-high.
- Using tongs to carefully place the whole vegetables (only the yellow squash and the zucchini will be cut up) and the kielbasa on the hot grill and then close the lid.
- Grill for 4 minutes then using tongs, flip the vegetables and the kielbasa and continue cooking for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
- Remove everything from the grill and allow to cool for several minutes until it can be handled comfortably.
- Slice the sausage thinly and add to the orzo.
- Remove the stem and seeds from the top of the peppers, peel away the skin, then dice the roasted peppers.
- Scrape the corn kernels off of the ear and add them to the salad.
- Trim the end off of the leek and thinly slice the white part of the leek and add it to the salad.
- Cut the yellow squash and zucchini into thin slices and add it to the salad as well.
- Toss everything together, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and serve.
A fun, easy and delicious family friendly meal? Yes, that is what you have with the fun pasta dish courtesy of Cuisine at Home. There is really something for everyone in this dish. Kids loved the “frizzled” prosciutto which is essentially strip of prosciutto that have been cooked until they are crispy. A healthy dose of both yellow squash and zucchini ensure that there are vegetables in every bite while the mild white wine and cream sauce disguises the squashes from vegetable adverse dinners. But for me the best part is the combination of the fresh basil, mint and lemon zest that tops the entire dish. There are truly so many flavors in one bowl that everyone is sure to leave the table happy.
SUMMER SQUASH PASTA w/ FRIZZLED PROSCIUTTO
8 ounces small dried pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces prosciutto, sliced into 1/2 inch strips
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium yellow squash, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh mint, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Salt & pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of water according to package instructions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the prosciutto and cook until crisp. Transfer to a paper lined plate to drain.
- Add the remaining oil to the skillet. Add the onion, zucchini and yellow squash. Cook until the onion softens, about 6 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the wine and cook until it is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
- Add the cream and pasta, tossing to coat. Cook until the sauce thickens slightly, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese, basil, mint, lemon zest and prosciutto.
- Add the reserved pasta water if necessary to thin the sauce.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.