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
adapted from The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook
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.