San Francisco does not do summer. I showed up here a few days ago for my friend’s wedding and was welcomed with fog, wind, and temperatures that are decidedly unsummerlike. Despite having lived here over 7 years, I forget this, especially since the rest of the nation is flirting with triple digit weather.
So, I get it if you’re thinking it’s just too hot for pasta. I get it because just a few days ago I was drinking ice cold watermelon lemonade to beat the heat down in L.A. But it’s chilly and cold in S.F., and, despite that, the markets are still brimming with summer produce, so that’s when I want a summer pasta like this. It’s a bit mismatched with bright summer flavors better accustomed to a cookout yet they’re tossed in a hot pasta filling enough for a blustery day.
And what could be more fitting for a mismatched dish than some mismatched pasta, known as maltagliati. The term maltagliati translates to “poorly cut” referring to oddly shaped scraps of the pasta making process.
Any good pasta shop in Italy sells maltagliati and the incongruous shapes haphazardly pick up sauce and any other bits in their way, which is what makes it so perfect for this dish. With shreds of zucchini blossoms, discs of baby zucchini, and kernels of corn, the pasta makes for a sort of chaos that tastes very much in sync — kind of like the mismatched weather and produce that happens this time of year here in the Bay area.
Maltagliati Pasta with Summer Vegetables Recipe
- Makes: 6 servings
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Hands-On Time: 30 minutes
- 8 ounces maltagliati pasta
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for garnish
- 2 leeks, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced into half moon shapes
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 pound baby zucchini, trimmed and thinly sliced
- Kernels from 2 cobs of shucked corn (about 2 cups)
- About 12 squash blossoms
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
- 1 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon leaves
- 12 fresh basil leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces
- 2 ounces ricotta salata, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. When it comes to a boil, stir in the pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes or according to the package directions.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the leeks, season with salt and pepper and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and zucchini, plus 1 tablespoon of the oil and cook until the zucchini are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the corn and turn off the heat.
Clean zucchini blossoms by gently twisting the pistils (often covered in pollen) from the center of the flowers until they come off. Pull off the leaves at the bottom of the blossoms, and remove the stems. Using a damp paper towel, remove any dirt from the petals. Tear the squash blossoms into strips and stir into leek mixture.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta water. Return pasta pot over the stove and add half of the pasta water with the butter. Cook over medium-high heat until reduced by 1/3 and emulsified. Stir in pasta and zucchini mixture and stir until coated — add more pasta water if necessary so that each noodle is well coated. Add herbs, stir briefly, taste and add more salt and pepper, as desired.
To serve, place pasta in bowls, top with ricotta salata, drizzle with remaining olive oil, and serve immediately.