We Minnesotans tend to stay away from hot and hearty foods like noodles during the summer, especially in August when it is SO HUMID. However, by avoiding pasta in the summer, you’re not only missing out on some fabulous vegetable combos you’re also cheating yourself out of some very important carbs to help keep your energy level up.
We in the Twin Cities have many opportunities for fresh vegetables at Farmer’s Markets, for example. You might wander around the booths and say, “Geez, I wonder what I could do with that?” I am offering some help with this here!
First order of business: How do you know when your spaghetti is cooked to al dente?
My hint for you: Look at the picture for this article. This noodle (started from dry noodle), with a tiny hard core still remaining, has two minutes left till al dente. My rule of thumb is to check spaghetti two minutes before the box says it will be al dente. I remove one noodle, bite it and if it has that tiny hard white with a little yellower core around it, like you see in the picture, then it really does need just two more minutes. No tiny white hard core? It’s done!
It is SO EASY to overcook spaghetti noodles and al dente is important for olive oil based recipes so they don’t turn to mush. The two minute al dente check is a must!
Here are some great summer seasonal recipes to try with spaghetti noodles:
First, I have to bring up my Lemon and Leek with Sea Salt recipe – it’s a must try!
There’s lots of dazzling pepper choices right now – why not try Three Pepper Pasta (my hint on this one: Use half the salsa than is suggested and make it a salsa verde).
White and Black Eggplant Pasta – use your favorite plain tomato sauce if you don’t make it yourself and the marjoram make this very zesty. I would 100% recommend freshly grated Parmesan with this one.
This is the best Garden Spaghetti recipe I have ever seen – I truly appreciate the directions on how to prepare the vegetables. There are tons of veggies here.
Spaghetti with Shrimp, Broccolini and Basil sounds absolutely amazing right about now, doesn’t it?
Got a zillion vegetables and want to use them all in one cold salad? Try this Summer Spaghetti Salad recipe. Three hints on this: I’d initially use just half of a bottle of Italian dressing – this seems like too much. And, DRAIN/DRY vegetables thoroughly. And, don’t make this more than two hours ahead of time – there’s a lot of water-based stuff here.
- I haven’t tried this one yet, but the flavor combination sounds amazing. They use mild curry paste – I’d go for some heat and use spicy green curry! Vegetable Curry Pasta
Vegetarian Mexican Spaghetti – this is a fabulous twist on taco flavors and much less hassle in my opinion! I’d use fresh red peppers and chopped tomatoes from my garden plus some green onion on top, too. It can use regular ground beef, too. A little fresh cilantro would be good. I’ll make this and feature it in a future column since I am making so much suggestions on it!
Spaghetti with Spinach – you could make this with bok choy or Swiss chard – big and green and leafy is where it’s at here. And, like one of the readers, I’d omit the parsley, too.
- If you’re in the mood for a good Spaghetti Carbonara but the heat makes you want it lighter, try my previously published lighter-version recipe – I used a different noodle in this recipe but spaghetti is the traditional noodle for it.