Summer is perfect for grabbing your favorite fresh produce and making a simple, healthy-ish, seasonal dinner out of it. In this case, we're going straight for the basil (of course), zucchini, and summer squash. The basil is the obvious choice, and while I don't always love the classic pesto, this version is lightened up, homemade, and made extra satisfying with a splash of cream. As for the zucchini and summer squash, they are the naturally sweet, flavorful, seasonal veggies that I personally want to pack into as many August dinners as possible.
Grab as much fresh basil you can get your hands on and combine it in a food processor with a bit of garlic, parmesan, and salt and pepper. I stand by the fact that in some cases such as this, all we need is a splash of olive oil and water to get a beautifully combined pesto blend!
Once that's all set, while you start cooking your linguine (or bucatini! or spaghetti! or whatever your heart desires!) it's time to prepare the summer veggies. We're going for the half-moon shape here because in my opinion it's the perfect bite sized bite in between diced and sliced. We'll briefly sauté these until they're golden and good to go.
Then it's as easy as adding in some of your homemade pesto, a bit of light cream, and stirring it up until you've got a delicious sauce going. While I don't usually cook with cream, sometimes light cream is truly irreplaceable and makes a dish decadent and extra satisfying! In this case, the cream and pesto mix together to make the most flavorful, light green, summer sauce.
Spoon out that al dente linguine and toss it right into the freshly made sauce. Using tongs, toss everything together until the pasta is coated in the sauce and the zucchini and summer squash are tossed throughout the pasta. If needed, use a bit of reserved pasta water to thin the sauce. I always find that simmering the pasta and sauce for a few minutes helps some of the starch from the pasta and reserved water thicken the sauce and combine everything together extra nicely.
Top with LOTS of freshly grated parmesan, as much basil as your heart desires, and twirl up each perfectly creamy summer bite.
Fresh basil pesto, a splash of cream, and two summer produce favorites make for a decadent pasta dish filled with seasonal veggies.
1. Add basil, garlic, salt, pepper, and grated parmesan to a food processor and pulse until combined. Add olive oil and water, pulsing until mixed, scraping down the sides if needed.
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook linguine until just al dente, reserving 1 cup pasta water prior to draining.
2. Meanwhile, cut zucchini and summer squash in half lengthwise, and then slice into half moon slices. In large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and add sliced zucchini and summer squash. Season with salt and pepper and sauté, stirring every 3-5 minutes, until golden, about 10-15 minutes.
3. Add a sprinkle of crushed red pepper and decrease heat to low. Add pesto and light cream and stir to combine. Add pasta, toss to combine, and thin with reserved pasta water as needed. Serve immediately topped with freshly grated parmesan and basil.
Leftover pesto can be stored in the fridge.
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