Spring is in the air! That means summer is around the corner, which also means we start seeing more “summer body friendly” dishes come out. But I for one, am not about to put away the pasta. Instead, I prefer to lighten it up with a bright, lighter sauce and some added colorful veggies. This pasta dish is a great Spring dinner. It has lemon and browned butter garlic sauce, with a touch of white wine for richness, and colorful green zucchini and yellow squash half moon slices tossed in fettuccine pasta, and finished with a shower of freshly grated Parmesan.
This pasta dish can easily be made into a more filling meal by simply adding some grilled chicken or shrimp. That means you can cook up a chicken breast (or shrimp), dice it up and toss it in with the veggies and not have to worry about a side dish, because everything is right there in the pasta.
Tonight I went with chicken, and I heated my cast iron pan up in a 450 degree oven before placing the chicken breast on it; it gave some nice extra crunchy browning action on the chicken, that adds lots of flavor. Before putting it in the oven, squeeze the juice of half a lemon over both sides of the chicken breast, and generously salt and pepper it. I like to use coarse pepper with this one. While the chicken is cooking, bring your pasta water (salted) to a full boil. Between the time it takes to come to boil, plus the time it takes to cook the pasta, your chicken should be done about the same time, 20 minutes-ish. Drain the pasta, and reserve around 1/2 cup of pasta water; just scoop it out and eyeball it. Pull the chicken out when its done and let it rest for 5 or 10 minutes, without cutting it during this time. This makes it juicier. While the chicken rests, heat your pan with the butter and garlic at medium high heat, and saute until butter browns. Be careful because the line from browned to burned is thin. I know how easy it is to accidentally cross that line in a snap.
You gotta use real butter, by the way. Margarine or imitations won’t work. You will know when the butter is perfectly browned because it will smell nutty and sweet. Then you add the wine, reduce it by about half, which is around a 5-minute simmer. Finally, everything gets tossed into that pan and the magic happens. The pasta water allows the sauce to stick to the noodles, the zucchini and squash get just tender enough, and you make that Parmesan cheese rain over it all. Make. It. Rain.
I like to squeeze the other half of lemon over the dish right before serving and give it a final toss. This dish is a stunner and a delicious family meal, all in under 30 minutes.Print
Garlicky lemon sauce, tossed with tender squash and zucchini, fettuccine pasta, and grated Parmesan cheese.
- 8 oz fettuccine pasta
- 1 lb chicken breast
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 stick real butter
- 8 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup zucchini (coined and halved)
- 1 cup yellow squash (coined and halved)
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and coarse ground pepper
- Heat cast iron skillet in oven at 450 degrees until hot. Squeeze juice of half a lemon over both sides of chicken breast and generously salt and pepper both sides. Add to hot pan and return to oven. Cook until internal temp reaches 160 degrees, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let rest 5 to 10 minutes undisturbed.
- While chicken cooks, bring large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook fettuccine pasta until al dente. Reserve about 1/2 cup starchy pasta water; drain pasta. Set aside.
- In a shallow skillet, heat butter and garlic and saute until butter is browned and garlic is fragrant.
- Add white wine, increase heat to medium high, and simmer until reduced by about half, about 5 minutes.
- Turn off heat. Add zucchini, squash, and salt and pepper to taste. Add chicken (optional), pasta water, and pasta and toss until coated.
- Shower with lots of Parmesan cheese, squeeze juice of other half of lemon, toss again. Serve with extra Parmesan and cracked black pepper.