These hot days of August are enough to make even the most passionate cook want to stay away from the kitchen. When I find myself needing a simple, quick and delicious meal to put together because it's just too hot to spend a lot of time by the stove, I will often turn to pasta. Sure, you have to boil water. But that's literally the only heat that gets applied to this meal! Once the pasta is cooked, your time near the stove is over (hooray!). The warmth of the cooked pasta gently heats the zucchini and the rest of the ingredients get added after the pasta has cooled so they maintain their bright, raw flavors.
I used Maestri Pastai's Cavatelli pasta for this dish, but any small-shaped pasta such as macaroni, farfalle, or penne will do. If you can't find mozzarella pearls (the smallest-size, fresh mozzarella balls can be found at Marczyk's in Denver and most Whole Foods markets) you can always dice up the larger versions. Either way, be sure to add the cheese when the pasta is only slightly warm to the touch so it doesn't immediately melt and form your pasta dish into an unappealing cheese glob. To turn this pasta into a meal, I topped it with a fried egg. It would also be delicious with just about any added protein such as cannelini beans, chicken, or shrimp.
1 lb. Cavatelli Pasta
2 cups zucchini, grated (about 3-4 small zucchini)
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (about 1 pint)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 T basil, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
3 T olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup Mozzarella pearls
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add pasta. Cook according to package instructions, drain, and place in a large bowl. Place grated zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Toss well and squeeze the zucchini gently, allowing the moisture to drain. While pasta is still hot, toss with grated zucchini. Set aside.
Once pasta has cooled, slightly, to just warm, add tomatoes, parsley, basil, lemon juice and olive oil and toss well to combine. Season with salt and pepper and add a little extra olive oil if necessary.
When pasta is only a little warm to the touch, add mozzarella and toss well to combine. Serve with the parmigiano reggiano sprinkled on the top.