Monday, August 16, 2010

Whole Grain Spaghetti with Summer Squashes, Red Peppers, and Garlic Bread Crumbs

Did you see The Next Food Network Star last night?  I was super excited to see Aarti Sequeira win, since I'd been rooting for her all along.  The series finale followed a great meal at Rialto, in Cambridge.  I am far too finicky to be a restaurant critic, but that was by far the best meal I've ever had for restaurant week.  Delish! 

Speaking of delish...this pasta ain't Jody Adams' pasta, but it's definitely worth trying.  This is a little different, in that there's no real sauce.  The pasta gains it flavor from the slightly sweet, fresh summer vegetables and the crunchy garlic toasted bread crumbs and walnuts.  You can really taste the freshness of the veggies.  The bread crumbs introduce a delightful crunch, and they enhance the nuttiness of whole wheat pasta.  Bread crumbs on pasta might seem strange, but they're actually a traditional Italian substitute for cheese, originating with peasants who had stale bread and no cheese.  Well, I may not be an Italy, but I do live on a peasant's food budget!  (Well, with the exception, of, ahem, that dinner at Rialto.)

Whole Grain Spaghetti with Summer Squashes, Red Peppers, and Garlic Toasted Bread Crumbs
serves 4

2-3 slices hearty whole-grain or whole wheat bread
4 cloves garlic, crushed or thinly sliced
1 1/2 Tbsp finely chopped walnuts
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow summer squash
1 cup shredded carrots
1 and 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 pinch nutmeg

1. In a food processor, pulse the bread to create fine crumbs.  Heat 1/2 Tbsp olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add the sliced garlic once it is warm.  Toast the garlic for up to a minute, until it is just starting to gain some color.  Add the bread crumbs and the walnuts.  Toast for about 5minutes, stirring frequently, until the bread crumbs have started to brown.  Add 1/2 tsp salt, mix thoroughly, and pour into a small bowl.
2. Use the shredding disc of your food processor to shred the summer squash and zucchini, as well as the carrot (if necessary).  Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the shredded vegetables to the pan, and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions.  Once the carrots and squash have softened, add the julienned red pepper.  Add the basil, oregano, and the pinch of nutmeg to the vegetable mixture.  Add 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste), and season the vegetables generously with freshly ground black pepper. 
3. Once the pasta is cooked, spoon it into four bowls.  Top each pasta with a mound of the vegetable mixture, and then a few spoonfuls of the bread crumbs and serve.


  1. I didn't see it last night but this sounds great. In fact I was planning on some veggie marinara and pasta for this week!

  2. Oh goodness. Okay so my husband hates tomato sauce but I totally love spaghetti. This looks even BETTER than spaghetti and my husband will eat this. HUGE accomplishment. I will be trying this!!!

  3. I am so happy Aarti won! I just started trying Indian food in the last several months and have been kicking myself for waiting so long to try them.

    My go to is really easy too - can even be done on a weeknight - ready in 30 minutes (well, you marinate the chicken overnight!)

  4. I can't wait to start watching Aarti's show! I love that you had a post-celebratory meal at Rialto - one of my favorite places in the city!

  5. Oh yes please. Love the squash and peppers...such a nice, summery pasta - which are hard to find we think...usually they're all too heavy but this dish looks divine!