A Pantry Pasta Perfect for the Season

June 5, 2024
Dining & Wine
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My flight landed just before dinnertime last night. My family and I could easily have ordered in, but after four straight days of restaurant food — on a scouting trip for The New York Times — I craved the Zen of making dinner, which always soothes my travel frazzle. I wanted something fast, pantry-friendly and seasonal, to reflect this lovely warm weather we’ve been blessed with in the Northeast. Lo and behold, I found Ali Slagle’s lemon-garlic linguine, which checks every box.

It’s a pantry pasta perfect for the season. The acidity of the lemon juice and zest makes it lighter and brighter than the usual pantry pasta, and you can jazz it up with whatever fresh ingredients you have on hand: a handful of torn fresh herbs (I’ve got sorrel and mint on the deck), or some of those greens or sugar snap peas just coming into season, thinly sliced and cooked in the pasta water. Is it too early to proclaim this the Recipe of the Summer? It’s only been out for a couple of weeks and it already has a 5-star rating! Give it a whirl and let me know what you think — I’m at hellomelissa@nytimes.com. Let’s compare notes.

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Lemon juice also plays a critical role in Yasmin Fahr’s zucchini salad with bread crumbs. The citrusy, mustardy, anchovy-enhanced dressing soaks into raw zucchini cubes, softening them and imbuing them with flavor. A crunchy topping of fried capers and bread crumbs adds texture and heft. You can serve it with any pantry pasta that needs a side of vegetables, or make it the star of a summer lunch or light dinner.

There’s a small amount of lemon juice in Kay Chun’s herb-marinated pork chops, though it’s really just there to bring out the flavors of the herbs, garlic, shallot and olives. Boneless loin chops keep this on the leaner side for pork, and they cook up in a snap. And check out Kay’s wily technique: She marinates the pork after cooking instead of before, which means the meat absorbs sharp, fresh flavors that have not been dulled by cooking. This works wonderfully with any just-cooked meats and fish. For example, I would try it with seared boneless, skinless chicken thighs for an easy poultry-based weeknight dinner.

For another full-flavored chicken thigh option, the honey and soy sauce mixture on Kay’s glazed chicken thighs caramelizes in the oven, turning sticky and salty-sweet. Serve it with a stack of napkins for those who love to eat poultry with their hands (that’s me!).

No point in eating Yasmine’s ginger-garlic shrimp with coconut milk with your hands, though — the creamy, spicy broth (and the rice that absorbs it) has to be scooped with a spoon. Then you can pluck out the fat shrimp and floppy spinach leaves with your chopsticks.

Finally, for dessert, let’s circle back to lemon with a pan of lemon-blueberry bars. The jammy berries add color and sweetness to these beloved tart treats. Be sure to serve them cold, straight from the fridge, for the firmest and best texture. They can get a little runny if left at room temperature too long.

Obviously, you’ll want to subscribe to get these and all the other thousands upon thousands of recipes we have waiting for you at New York Times Cooking. And if you need any technical advice (where did the search bar go, why can’t I print), send an email to cookingcare@nytimes.com — the smart folks there can help sort it all out.

That’s all for now. See you on Wednesday.

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