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Pasta Primavera

Last spring, the local weather station did a summer forecast, a generalized "here's what we think the weather will be like this summer." The past few years, the summer heat has been unbearable. The summer of 2011 was the 5th warmest in history and August 2010 was the hottest month in recorded history. 

The forecast for this summer was less dire. Fewer heat waves. Fewer days overall of 90+ degree weather.

Liars. 

It's been hot. And HUMID. I don't mind the heat, but I hate feeling sticky and sweaty. I hate feeling like the air is too thick to breathe. And you know it's bad when the dogs don't even want to go for a walk. 

On days like that, I don't want to eat heavy meals, nor stand over a hot stove cooking them. Give me a bowl of cereal, and I'm good. But The Mister says cereal for dinner more than two nights in a row is unacceptable. Something about setting a good example for the baby. Fortunately, I had saved this recipe from an issue of Food Network magazine for just such an occasion. 

The bright colors and light flavors of this dish are perfect for a hot summer day. Melted Parmesan and goat cheeses create a light, flavorful sauce — do not skip the goat cheese!If it's really unbearable outside, cook it in the morning before it gets too hot, and refrigerate it. Serve it cold for dinner. If you must have some protein, add chicken or shrimp. 

Pasta Primavera
Slightly adapted from Food Network

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 12 ounces rotini or other corkscrew pasta
  • ½ pound broccoli florets (thawed if frozen)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, julienne
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a palmful of kosher salt, then add the pasta. Cook according to package directions. 
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes, a teaspoon of salt and the red pepper flakes. Cook until the tomatoes start to wrinkle, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Two minutes before the pasta is finished, add the broccoli, carrot and bell pepper. 
  4. Reserve half a cup of the cooking liquid, then drain the pasta and vegetables and return them to the pot. 
  5. Add about a quarter-cup of the pasta cooking liquid to the skillet and stir to combine, then add the contents of the skillet to the pot, and toss to combine. 
  6. Add the parsley, parmesan and half of the goat cheese to the pot, and stir to melt the cheeses. Season with salt. 
  7. Divide the pasta among plates or shallow bowls, crumble the remaining goat cheese over each bowl, and drizzle with a little olive oil. 

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