Although Labor Day signals the unofficial end of summer, the weather and farmers markets suggest otherwise. That's more than okay with us, because we're planning to squeeze as much out of the season as we can before fall hits. This pasta is just one way we're doing it: It's full of tender zucchini, juicy cherry tomatoes, and vibrant fresh basil, all pulled together with a super-simple lemon-butter sauce that's enhanced with a touch of garlic.
Make it while you're still overwhelmed with summer produce, and suddenly you won't be in such a rush to get to apples and pumpkin.
An Easy Weeknight Pasta That Celebrates Late-Summer Produce
This pasta takes what you likely already have on hand and turns it into something to get excited about. Gather the zucchini you can't seem to get rid of, a pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, and a bunch of fresh, fragrant basil from the garden and turn into a weeknight dinner that's equal parts light, bright, and comforting.
Lemon Butter Pasta & Veggies
Serves 4 to 6
Prep time: 5 minutes to 10 minutes ; cooking time: 20 minutes
dry short pasta, such as fusilli, cavatappi, or gemelli
zucchini or yellow squash (about 2 medium), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
cherry or grape tomatoes (about 2 cups), halved
kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water
freshly ground black pepper
garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons
finely grated lemon zest
freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
chopped fresh basil leaves
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook 1 minute less than al dente, about 8 minutes or according to package instructions. Meanwhile, cook the vegetables.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the squash, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cook until softened and the tomatoes release some of their juices, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the butter, garlic, and lemon zest. Cook until the butter is melted and fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the pasta and reserved cooking water and toss until the sauce thickens and coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Garnish with Parmesan, if using.
Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.