Summertime Pasta

I just love pasta, pretty much any day of the year. However, as pasta typically serves to be a comfort food for me, so I have many warm and cheesy recipes for cold winter nights. In the summertime, I struggle to find pasta recipes beyond the typical antipasto or macaroni salad - delicious, yes, but so boring. So if you're looking to add some pizazz to your summer pasta options, here are a few creative options.

Matchless Macaroni Salad
An old standby of my mother's - from the Colorado Cache cookbook 
1/2 cups seedless green grapes
8 oz shell macaroni or bowties
8 oz pitted ripe black olives, drained + halved
3/4 cup chopped green onions
3 oz blue cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 t. garlic powder
3 T. lemon juice
1 cup mayonnaise

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain. Combine hot macaroni with grapes, olives, onion, cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mix together lemon juice and mayonnaise until smooth. Combine macaroni and mayonnaise until evenly mixed. Refrigerate covered several hours or overnight. Add more mayonnaise if desired, before serving. Serves 8-12.

Nouveau Macaroni Salad
From www.101cookbooks.com, one of my favorite healthy cooking sites. 
Unique and refreshing!
1 pound elbow macaroni
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced green onions
3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
salt/pepper to taste
zest and juice of one lemon
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
4 big handfuls arugula (or spinach)
1 large apple, diced

Cook the macaroni in a large pot of well-salted water per package instructions. Set aside at least 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Then drain pasta and set aside.  In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large skillet until hot. Add most of the green onions, all of the garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onions soften, and the garlic begins to take on some color, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for a couple minutes.

Use a hand blender or food processor to puree the green onion mixture along with 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, zest of the lemon, half the lemon juice, and the reserved pasta water. Puree and taste. The green onion flavor should be assertive. Stir in the Parmesan.

Combine the macaroni with the green onion sauce in a large bowl. Toss well. Add the arugula and most of the apple and toss again. Taste, and add more pepper, salt, or lemon juice if needed. Serve topped with the remaining apple and green onion. Makes enough for a crowd or potluck.

Fresh Corn, Zucchini, and Cream Pasta
I threw all of these ingredients together one night and discovered a quick and delicious summertime dish. Other add-ins would be great with this, too - like spinach, asparagus, or cherry tomatoes. 
2 cups cooked pasta (fettuccine or penne would be great; or cheese ravioli for added decadence)
1 T. olive oil
1 cup fresh summer corn
1 cup diced zucchini or summer squash
1/4 cup real bacon bits (or just real bacon, cooked and crumbled)
1 T. fresh basil, chopped
1/3 cup sliced green onion
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup half and half
shredded Parmesan for sprinkling

Place a large saute pan over medium high heat and add oil. Toss in corn, zucchini, and bacon bits and saute for several minutes until vegetables are lightly browned. Add basil, onion, and salt/pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook for a few more minutes. Finish off with half and half, allowing the liquid to bubble and coat the vegetable mixture. Toss in pasta and split into bowls. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese. Serves 2.

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