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How to Use Up All That Summer Produce to Make the Best Pasta Yet


While those long, extra hot, summertime nights can make even the best of us seriously consider if a bowl of ice cream is an acceptable dinner, a fresh and healthy meal need not be a dreaded, effort-fueled duty. In fact, with a few quick techniques, you can quickly transform a mountain of nutrient-rich vegetables into a winning pasta dish.

To start, you’ll need a pride-inducingly large, “yes, of course I eat this well,” basketful of fresh vegetables­—an easy thing to amass if you’re visiting a farmer’s market, or have a garden plot that’s in prime production mode. What’s our secret to using so much produce in pasta? Blend some vegetables down into a flavorful sauce, and use even more chopped up varieties to mix up with the pasta itself, for texture.

But when it comes to healthy, we’re not stopping there. Believe it or not, goji berries (one of our favorite antioxidant-rich, longevity-promoting, brain-boosting sweet superfruits) make a fantastic addition to summer vegetable recipes by adding a welcome, subtle sweetness (and clearly loads of benefits, too). We also choose gluten-free, legume-based pasta to create a protein-rich base that ensures every bite is surprisingly balanced in macronutrients. Not an empty calorie in sight!

And the best part is, this cooking endeavor isn’t just easy, it’s also highly versatile. While you’ll want to stick to the basic parameters of the superfood tomato sauce, the vegetables you use in the remainder of the dish are open for all kinds of creative swaps. So whether you need to appease picky eaters, want to inspire yourself to try something new, or wish to simply use up what’s in the fridge, make it a pasta night with our bulletproof Farmer’s Market Fusilli.

WATCH HOW WE MAKE OUR FARMER’S MARKET FUSILLI:

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FARMER’S MARKET FUSILLI PREP TIPS:

Here's how to upgrade your pasta dish even further:

  • Use a high-protein pasta. Pasta no longer needs to be the epicenter of empty calories on your plate! Instead of using traditional flour, pasta varieties made out of legumes or even superfoods can effortlessly transform your meal into a high-protein, high-fiber, and highly-satisfying affair! We enjoy incorporating this brand in our kitchen often (check out its highly impressive nutrition panel!).

  • Choose organic corn. Corn is among the most highly genetically modified crops in the world, so if you’re looking to avoid GMO’s, make certain the variety you use is non-GMO certified and/or organic.

  • Pick your fresh favorites. Although the vegetable combo in the recipe below is sure to please, other vegetables can easily be substituted, like broccoli, eggplant, peas, etc. For best results use the zucchini as the vegetable to swap with a pound of another favorite vegetable, although you can also switch up the corn or even the bell pepper as well.

  • Cook down the sauce. A longish, slow simmer allows the pasta sauce to both develop flavor and release water. To avoid being overly loose, cook until the sauce is reduced by about two thirds to create a very thick base that sticks to the vegetables and pasta it’s tossed with.

  • Multitask with the pasta and the sauce. To save time, we like to make the pasta while the sauce is cooking. This way, the entire dish cooks in just 30 minutes.

MORE WINNING PASTA RECIPES:


Farmer’s Market Fusilli

True to its name, this recipe is enormously flexible, depending on what's available at your farmer’s market … or growing in your garden! In place of (or in addition to) the zucchini, try other vegetables like broccoli, green beans, carrots, and cauliflower.

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 
Author: Julie Morris 

Ingredients

1½ pounds tomatoes, coarsely chopped

½ large yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1/3 cup dried goji berries

Sea salt

¼ cup olive oil, divided

1 pound zucchini, cut into ¼-inch dice

1 orange bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch dice

1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen

1/3 cup coarsely chopped pitted kalamata olives

1 tablespoon small capers

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 dozen large fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced, plus extra for garnish

10 ounces fusilli or rotini (high protein variety recommended)

Directions

1. In a blender, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, goji berries, and ¾ teaspoon sea salt. Blend into a smooth sauce, and set aside momentarily.

2. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the zucchini, bell pepper, and corn, and cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and set aside.

3. In the same sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the blended tomato sauce, bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until the sauce is reduced by about two thirds—it should be quite thick. Stir in the reserved cooked vegetables, as well as the olives, capers, red pepper flakes, vinegar, and sliced basil leaves, and cook for a minute or two longer to warm. Remove from heat and cover until ready to use.

4. Cook the pasta according to the manufacturer’s directions. (You can also do this step while the sauce is cooking.) Drain well, then combine with the vegetable-filled sauce, adjusting the seasoning as desired. Serve warm, topped with additional basil leaves.

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