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Kitchen Adventures: A pasta with fresh summer vegetables

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By Becca Owsley

Summer gardens soon will bear tasty vegetables that are wonderful on their own but also can make a healthy pasta dish.

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Many of my favorite vegetables now are things I wouldn’t dare eat as a child. The top of that list is fresh zucchini and squash.

As a kid, my mom used to try to convince me squash was candy to get me to eat it. I only fell for that once and then continued to refuse  it.

But, like many of us, as I got older and my food tastes changed, I began to love these garden delectables. Except for green beans, I’m still not a fan.

There are so many recipes out there that utilize fresh-from-the-garden treats. Many are baked, deep-fried or mixed in with other ingredients.

I stumbled upon a recipe for pasta with zucchini and tomatoes in a creamy lemon-yogurt sauce. Because I like all of those things it was worth a try.

The blogger adapted the recipe from a Jillian Michaels cookbook. Considering the source, I’m guessing it’s a healthy dish. The recipe stated that it has 303 calories and has 49 grams of carbohydrates per serving.

When slicing the zucchini, a mandolin slicer would work best. Slicing with a knife is good but can be challenging to get the thin slices needed for this dish.

The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt, but I used a six-ounce individual serving cup.

You can use whole wheat pasta of your choice. I used thin spaghetti noodles. 

It also is not a very expensive recipe to try. Zucchini, if not straight from the garden, is often on sale at the grocery store, pasta is usually pretty inexpensive and the other ingredients are cost effective.

The result has a great fresh summer taste.

I did have one problem. For me, pasta is garlic, spices and served in a light or think sauce. Biting into pasta that has a strong lemon taste took some getting used to. In a way, it messed with my head.

If you think that might bother your taste buds, I recommend using a little less lemon zest. If you are good with the lemony taste, then pour it on.

The dish would be great on its own, or use a smaller serving to pair with a salad tossed in a light dressing or vinaigrette.

If you are not concerned with carbohydrates or calories, adding a side of bread would be a nice touch as well.

Pasta with Zucchini, Tomatoes and Creamy Lemon-Yogurt Sauce

8 ounces whole wheat linguine (or your pasta of choice)

1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 medium (8-ounce) zucchini, cut into thin strips (3 inches long and 3/4 inch wide)

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook about 9 minutes, or according to package directions. Remove 1/4 cup of the cooking water and set it aside. Drain pasta and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together yogurt, Parmesan, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and cook just until wilted, turning occasionally with a spatula. The zucchini will be soft and somewhat transparent.

Use a spoon or spatula to push the zucchini aside to clear space on the bottom of the pan. Add garlic and cook 15 to 30 seconds until golden but not really brown.

Mix the garlic into the zucchini.

Stir in tomatoes and cook until softened, about two minutes.

Transfer the zucchini mixture to the yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Add drained linguine and toss gently to combine.

Add the reserved pasta cooking water a tablespoon at a time, if necessary, to thin it. Divide among four bowls and serve.

SOURCE: www.ezrapound cake.com adapted from Jillian Michaels’ “The Master Your Metabolism Cookbook."

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.