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Brown Butter Summer Squash Pasta

A twenty-minute meal full of fresh flavor.

When I need dinner in a hurry, a quick pasta is my favorite way to go about it and this dish shows you just why that is. In just twenty minutes, you get a meal that’s both filling and delicious even though it hardly took any effort and in this case, it’s one that’s flavored with nutty brown butter, plenty of summer squash, bright basil, pine nuts, and goat cheese. In other words, the main selling point ends up being the scrumptious flavor even if the ease of preparation is quite a draw.

The very first step is to toast your pine nuts in a hot and dry pan until they’re fragrant and golden brown. Don’t dare look away – it only takes a few minutes but they go from toasty to burnt incredibly quick.

You set those aside and get to work on the brown butter, which is the base of the flavor here. That’s really just a matter of letting the butter cook until it also becomes a little toasty and golden brown. You’ll know it’s ready when little browned bits start to form on the pan.

Then, some garlic, and two whole squash hop in to get soft. While I’ve used one zucchini and one yellow squash you can use one or the other or even add in an extra one – it’s versatile.

All that’s left to do is toss the tender brown-butter soaked squash with your cooked pasta, some goat cheese, red chili flake, the toasted pine nuts, and some fresh basil.

Stir it together just long enough for the basil to wilt and the flavors to come together and your work is done. All that’s left is the most enjoyable part of the process – eating!

There’s nothing even close to complicated here, but the nuttiness of the pine nuts and brown butter, the tang and creaminess of the goat cheese, the fragrant basil and garlic add depths of flavor that take very little effort. It’s simple to make, but it certainly doesn’t taste simple!

Serves 4

5m prep time

15m cook time

  • 8 oz short pasta, such as fusilli, gemelli, or penne [choose something curly]
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 1 small yellow squash, sliced
  • 4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flake, optional
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. While pasta cooks, heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add pine nuts and stir until fragrant and golden, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside immediately.
  3. Increase heat to medium, add butter to skillet and whisk constantly until butter is golden and brown bits begin to form. Add garlic and squash and saute until squash softens, about 5 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to low and add cooked pasta to skillet. Season with salt and pepper, add goat cheese and chili flake, if using. Add pine nuts and basil, toss to coat and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from How Sweet Eats.

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