Like most people, I love the summer. When September rolls around, and school is back in session, I feel like there is this sudden jump from summer right into Fall. However, summer still has a few weeks left and one thing we can continue to enjoy is amazing produce. Some of the most healthy, versatile vegetables reach their peak between now and through the Fall. For pregnant women, and their families, this means vegetables that are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber is at their finest.
The end of summer and the early fall are the best times to enjoy hearty vegetables like squash, including yellow and green zucchini. Squashes are high in vitamins A and C, plus high in potassium and fiber. Squash is a fruit because most of its varieties contain seeds. Because they are used for cooking meals, they are often referred to as a vegetable. However you call it, what makes squashes at summer’s end so unique are that they can be harvested while they are immature while their rind is still soft and tender- perfect for cooking!
One of my favorite recipes to create at this time of the year is primavera. Primavera, to me, is improperly named: It is meant to signify a classic dish made with the first (i.e. “prima”) vegetables of spring (i.e. “vera”). The idea for primavera is to take different vegetables, sauté them together with seasoning, and enjoy a hearty, satisfying meal when the first vegetables from a garden get picked. But, a primavera can, in my opinion, be made anytime. A primavera, then, is an ideal meal for anyone because it is so easy to make, provides sufficient nutrition, curbs hunger and reheats beautifully to enjoy again as a lunch or leftover dinner.
There is no right way to make a primavera. You can add as many vegetables as you like or leave out ones you don’t. Even better, the vegetables can be added to pasta, brown rice, quinoa or farro or eaten alone in a bowl with a sprinkle of fresh grated cheese, chopped basil or parsley. I wanted to create, then, a recipe that would be easy to make, incorporate different flavors, and colors. This recipe feeds a family, makes several dishes for leftovers or freezes well for later. Make this dish and enjoy the flavors of summer a little longer!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium green zucchini, diced into 1- inch cubes (Tip: Small zucchini are more flavorful. Larger zucchini are actually tough and less tender)
- 1 medium yellow zucchini, diced into 1-inch cubes
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal into discs
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1-2 gloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon of oregano
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley or basil (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of fresh grated parmesan cheese or pecorino Romano cheese (optional)
- 2 cups of whole wheat pasta (penne, linguine, or spaghetti)
- Cook pasta according to package direction. Drain well and set aside. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the pan is heated, add green and yellow zucchini, carrots, and onions.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper
- Cover. Cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Cook less if you prefer your vegetables crispy, or al dente; cook longer if you like your vegetables softer)
- When vegetables are cooked to desired consistency, add in the chopped garlic. Cook an additional 1-2 minutes until garlic is fragrant.
- Add in the cooked pasta. Toss together.
- Serve in bowls or on plates. Sprinkle pasta with grated cheese, or chopped herbs, if desired.