Inevitably, when this time of year rolls around, you know, the time of year when tiny shorts, tank tops, and bikinis are all I want to live in due to overheating, a variation of this pasta pops up on our dinner table.
I know for some people, summer is the time when they eat less, work out more, and lose weight. Such is not the case for me. I eat more, drink more, and work out less; therefore I gain weight in the summer. This year, gaining the requisite 3-4 summer pounds isn’t going to fly since I still have eight stubborn pounds of baby weight to get rid of. However, that doesn’t mean I want to start a diet of lettuce leaves and smoothies any time soon. (Thank you nursing for giving me the excuse to not diet all summer long.) Instead, I’m swapping out a few things here and there for a more balanced approach that’s a little more realistic for me.
Here, pasta is the perfect vessel to showcase some of summer’s freshest bounty, except instead of using all whole-wheat noodles, I went for a part whole-wheat, part zucchini noodle mix to knock out some of the carbs while still retaining a good amount of fiber. (I almost sound like a health food blogger, don’t I?)
I feel like whole-wheat pasta kind of has a negative connotation associated with it, especially for those die-hard pasta lovers out there, but when it comes to spaghetti, in most cases, I actually prefer it. It has this nutty flavor and heartiness to it that I adore, so to make the switch from white flour spaghetti to its whole-wheat counterpart, really doesn’t feel like a sacrifice to me.
The real stars here though, and what make this pasta one of my favorite things I’ve made all summer, thus far, are the brown butter and the grilled veggies. I’m sure you can conquer that grilled summer vegetables are phenomenal on their own, but when you bathe them in a vat of brown butter, there’s really no better thing on this earth.
First, part of the brown butter is used to cook the zoodles, then, when the veggies and pasta are ready to be added in, the rest of the brown butter gets tossed in, at the last minute, a handful of crumbled feta cheese gets added into the mix, and this summer pasta is ready to be served.
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 3 ears of corn
- ⅓ lb whole-wheat spaghetti
- 1½ lbs. zucchini
- 6 Tlbs. unsalted butter
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp. salt, divided
- ⅛ tsp. pepper
- 6 ounces crumbled light feta cheese (I used Trader Joe's)
- Heat a grill or grill pan to a medium-high heat. Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a rolling boil. Season liberally with salt. It should taste like the sea.
- Toss cherry tomatoes with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Place corn and cherry tomatoes on the grill. (If tomatoes are too small and will fall through the grates, place a piece of foil on the grill and cook them on that.). Grill corn until bright yellow and slightly charred, about 10 minutes. Grill tomatoes until starting to burst, about 7-8 minutes. Remove from grill and cut corn off the cob.
- While the veggies grill, add pasta to the boiling water. Cook until aldente, about 10 minutes. While the pasta cooks, cut both ends off all the zucchini. Use a spiralizer to make spaghetti noodles. Make sure to cut every 12 inches or so, so you don't have one long noodle.
- Once the pasta is done cooking, remove with tongs, and transfer to a colander. Reserve about ½ cup of the cooking liquid.
- Dry the pan out, and place back on the stove. Heat to a medium-high. Add butter. Once butter begins to melt and brown, swirl pan. Swirl until the butter is a deep golden brown and smells nutty, about 1-2 minutes. Add zucchini noodles, garlic and ½ tsp salt. Toss until noodles are slightly wilted, about 3 minutes. Add spaghetti, remaining salt, and pepper. Toss until noodles are softened and cooked, about 2 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, corn, and ¾ of the feta cheese. Toss until cheese starts to melt, but is still crumbled. If needed, add some pasta water to moisten the pasta.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, and garnish with remaining feta.