In years past, I traveled quite a bit. I had several weeks of vacation each year, and usually spent a couple of weeks of it in Europe, generally alternating between Italy and France. Alas, now my schedule doesn’t often allow for that sort of travel.
I do get lots of pleasure, however, from trips that friends make, and love seeing their photos and hearing about the sites they visited. But as you may imagine, mostly I like to see the menus they bring back, and hear about the great meals they had.
My friends Reed and Diane recently returned from a trip that truly had me turning green with envy. A few days after their return, they invited me for dinner, and to hear all about it. One week was spent staying with friends in the south of France, enjoying the local atmosphere, weather and food. Another week was spent motoring around Corsica, an island off the coast of France. I had never been there, and was fascinated by the shots of the rugged coast lines, the ancients citadels, and scenery.
Travelers after my own heart, many of their meals in both places were well documented with pictures of the exterior and interior of the various restaurants they found, and with great shots of the food.
After sharing their photos with me, Reed prepared our dinner. A simple pasta dish, it was so colorful and delicious that I whipped out my camera so I could share it with you. It was perfect for a warm summer evening, since it was quickly made and had such fresh ingredients. And it reminded me of the sort of dish one might get in a small Provençal restaurant…I could use my imagination, if not my frequent flyer miles!
REED’S SIMPLE SUMMER PASTA
1 lb fettuccine
1lb shrimp, peeled and deveined, dusted with salt and pepper
1/2 cup very good extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, very finely minced
1/2 tsp crushed hot red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
2 small zucchini, in 1/2” dice
1 each red and yellow bell pepper, in 1/2” dice
1 carton grape tomatoes
1 bag mesclun greens (See note)
Zest of one lemon, finely grated
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until just al dente.
In a large skillet or wok over medium high heat, sauté the shrimp in 1/4 cup olive oil until just barely pink through. Remove and set aside. Add a bit more olive oil, the garlic and the crushed red pepper to the pan and stir a couple of times. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Add the red and yellow bell peppers and continue to sauté, stirring frequently, 3-4 minutes. Add the grape tomatoes and the greens, and stir about 2 minutes. Put the shrimp in, add the lemon zest and toss. Drain the pasta and add the remaining olive oil. Toss the shrimp mixture with the pasta, top with the pine nuts. Serve immediately.
If you have all your ingredients minced, diced and ready, the shrimp mixture can be made in just about the time it takes the fettuccine to cook.
NOTE: Reed used a mixture of radicchio, arugula and frisée, available in bags in most supermarkets. Most any baby green mixture could be used, as long as there is no iceberg or romaine lettuce in it.