Some weeknights are such a whirlwind. Yesterday was Ms. Little A's back to school parent teacher night. 5:30 - 7:30 PM - a whopping two hours taken out of the already crazy weekday evening schedule. Planning our week's menu ahead on the weekend is a life saver in situations like this. We knew that back to school night would bring dinner challenges with it since mommy and daddy go to school and kids cannot come along. So there goes the option of going to eat out after the event. Since carry out was not an option (everyone voted against it), I jotted down pasta and garlic bread on the menu planner for this night. In my mind - "we shall see". On the day of, I had some gorgeous fresh corn and zucchini from the farmer's market sitting on the counter. And that is when the idea of this super easy weeknight alfredo pasta was born.
Jump to Recipe
Fall has started knocking on our doors here in the Midwest. We have had lot of rains and the temps have started cooling down. I love love love fall but then I am not ready to bid goodbye to all the fresh vegetable (and corn) bounty that the hot and humid weather of summer brings with it. There is still abundant corn, zucchini, tomatoes, and herbs on the farm stands. Guess what? Each one of these made it to this easy weeknight Alfredo pasta dish.
Between coming home from work and leaving for the back to school night, I was able to talk Ms. A through some steps for getting dinner ready. I walked her through what she needed to do boil and keep the pasta and corn ready by the time we got home later. That would save me so much time later.
What Ms. Little A did:
So she was able to set a big pot ¾ full of water on stove, salt it and wait for it to boil. After the water reached a "roaring boil", carefully she added the whole wheat penne pasta to the pan and set the timer to 12 minutes. While she waited for the pasta to cook, she dehusked and silked two cobs of corn. At 12 minute mark she added the corn to boiling pasta and set the timer to 3 minutes. At which point, she was supposed to turn the heat off, carefully remove the corn with tongs and drain the pasta. I told her to return the pasta to same pot, add cold water to cover the pasta and drizzle some olive oil. Then she waited for me.
See, if a middle schooler can do this, so can you. Confidence!!
Use of whole wheat pasta and whole wheat flour while making the roux for the pasta makes this recipe healthier as it does not involve any all purpose flour. Use whatever veggie you have on hand. I kept it summer produce focused s used zucchini, cherry tomatoes, corn along with onions and spinach. Freshly grated parmesan is a must. I request you to not use the already grated powdered stuff that is full of unnecessary additives. Buy a block of Parmesan - it is economical, free of harmful chemicals and grating is oddly satisfying.
Recipe Run Down
Onions, garlic and zucchini get a saute in butter and olive oil. I then added the flour, roasted it fr a bit, followed by adding milk/cream, cream cheese to make a sauce. Then added the spinach and corn followed b halved cherry tomatoes. Seasonings go in next, followed b boiled pasta. Parmesan and lot of fresh basil finish the dish. Serve this up with garlic bread or this foccacia (recipe here) Find the recipe details below.
Easy Weeknight Alfredo Pasta with summer vegetables
- 1 lb Whole wheat penne pasta
- 2 ears corn see notes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 zucchini small cubed
- 2 tablespoon whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup heavy cream see notes
- ¾ cup whole milk see notes
- 1 tablespoon herbed cream cheese
- 2 cups chopped spinach packed
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved, see notes
- A pinch nutmeg optional
- ⅓ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup fresh basil cut into ribbons
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Set a big pot ¾ full of water on high heat to boil. Liberally salt this water
- Once the water comes to a boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions
- 3 minutes before the pasta gets cooked, add the two ears of corn(husks and silks removed) into the pot too.
- While the pasta is cooking, set a wide, heavy bottomed pan on medium high heat. Add olive oil and butter to it and wait for the butter to melt.
- Now add the minced garlic, chopped onions and cubed zucchini to the melted butter+olive oil
- Cook for a minute or two and then sprinkle the two tablespoon of whole wheat flour. Cook the flour for two minutes or until it is lightly browned and the raw flour smell goes away. If the flour and veggies look too dry you can add some more butter/olive oil
- Now add the heavy cream and milk. Using a wooden spoon or a whisk, mix the liquid vigorously with the veggies and flour mixture until uniform.
- Once the sauce starts to thicken (after a couple minutes) add chopped spinach and tomatoes. Cook for two minutes or until the spinach is wilted. Turn the heat to low.
- If the pasta is cooked by now, take the corn out, save a cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta.
- Use a very sharp knife to carefully cut the kernels off of the corn cob. Add it to the sauce.
- Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to sauce along with Parmesan cheese. Add drained pasta to the sauce and veggies mixture.
- Turn the heat up to medium high, add basil and toss everything around. If the sauce is too thick, adjust the consistency with pasta water.
- Adjust seasning if needed and serve the pasta hot with extra parmesan for garnish. This focaccia bread is an excellent accompaniment to this pasta.
I always like to add some more freshly cracked black pepper on the pasta. I hope you will give this pasta a try while all these summer veggies are still in season. If you do, please tag The Kitchen Docs and share on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook.
Love - Vaishali.