This recipe utilizes garden fresh yellow zucchini, tomatoes and lemon thyme. I kind of ripped off the title from Amelia’s really awesome prior post of What’s in the Fridge Pasta. But the name seemed so fitting.
I love this time of year in the Bay Area. The weather is fabulous and gardens are abundant with the fruits of every gardener’s labor. Amelia’s garden is huge and has been producing fantastically this year. This week she brought me some of the fruits of her own labor – a beautiful crooked neck yellow squash, a handful of tomatoes, some Greek oregano and some lemon thyme. I immediately thought – pasta salad! What amazing flavor! Nothing compares to garden fresh veggies and herbs and her garden has really brought its A-game in flavor department this season!
What’s in Amelia’s Garden Pasta Salad
1 yellow squash, deseeded and cut into ½ inch rounds or strips
½ package of fusilli pasta (or whatever other pasta you want to use)
4 oz black olives, drained and roughly chopped
5 small tomatoes, diced
3 oz buffalo mozzarella, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 sprigs fresh lemon thyme, removed from stem
2 sprigs Greek oregano, removed from stem and chopped
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ teaspoon sea salt, plus two pinches
Pinch of seasoned salt
Two pinches of freshly cracked black pepper
½ tablespoon vinegar
Cooking the Squash
Preheat sautee pan to medium heat. Put vegetable oil in pan and let heat. Add in yellow squash, toss to coat and sprinkle with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side or until golden. Once golden on both sides, remove from heat and let squash cool completely
Cooking the Pasta
In a large stock or pasta pot bring water to a boil and season with a pinch of salt. Cook pasta according to package directions, subtracting one minute from the cooking time. Once pasta is cooked, immediately transfer to a colander and rinse with cold water until completely cool. Toss in a handful of ice cubes to continue the chilling process, tossing them around from time to time. Remove any unmelted ice before using.
In a small bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, salt, seasoned salt, pepper, thyme, oregano and garlic. Set aside. Keep in mind these ingredients for dressing are just suggestions. If you like something more or different, add it! Maybe you are a ranch fan instead of oil and vinegar – go for it!
In a large bowl, toss together pasta and dressing until pasta is well coated. Add in cooled squash and all other ingredients, then toss to combine well.
Serve family style. This both great as a left over or a make-ahead dish though, if you want to make it ahead of time, I would wait to put in the buffalo mozzarella until it’s almost time to serve. Alternatively, if you wanted to make this a vegan dish, omit the mozzarella altogether.
Lemon thyme was a great addition to this dish. Lemon thyme looks largely like its “common” cousin but its flavor is much lighter and, when you crush the leaves, you can enjoy its lemon fragrance and flavor. I definitely will have to grow some in my garden next year.