Avocado Pasta with Summer Vegetables
Avocados are something I did not like as a kid. Not even guacamole. As I have grown older, I have come to appreciate those creamy, full of healthy fats, little things. Yes, they are finicky when it comes to getting them perfectly ripe. Sometimes I have great luck and they are just perfect when I slice into them. Other times, if I am impatient, they are either overripe and brown streaks run through the flesh, or they’re slightly softer than a rock. I found that you have to really prepare ahead of time when it comes to avocados. I generally grocery shop on Sunday or Monday, so with that in mind, I try to plan anything involving avocados, at the end of the week. That way, they can sit on the counter all week and have the time to ripen them pretty little selves. I find that that system seems to work pretty well every time. Whew, who knew you’d have to plan around food so much!? Same thing with pears I find. But, I think it’s worth it, because who wants to eat something that is hard as a rock, or all brown? I know I don’t.
Let’s talk about this pasta dish. Creamy, ripe avocados are key to the flavor in this dish. Basically the avocados serve as a pesto type deal here. Avocados get processed until creamy and smooth with fresh basil, a little garlic, lemon and olive oil. It’s then tossed with fresh, hot pasta until everything is well coated. I decided to top mine with roasted red peppers, fresh summer corn and bacon. I can’t help it, I’ve been super into the bacon thing this summer. Obviously, you can leave it out, or substitute your own vegetables of choice. Some roasted tomatoes and perhaps zucchini would be delicious. A sprinkling of feta cheese would be fabulous too. This is a wonderfully filling, versatile dish that you can customize to your own likes and needs. This does make great leftovers as well. Grab those fading summer veggies and make this cozy, healthy meal.
Avocado Pasta with Summer Vegetables
Yield: 5-6 servings
4 ears corn, shucked and kernels removed
2 red bell peppers, cored and quartered
6 strips bacon
1 lb. pasta of choice
For the avocado “pesto”
2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
large handful of fresh basil
3 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
Heat the broiler to high. Line a small baking sheet with foil and place the quartered red peppers on the foil. Place under the broiler, and cook until the peppers have slightly charred, watching carefully, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Once cool, thinly slice and set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat, until brown and crispy, 5-8 minutes. Remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain the grease. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat. Return the skillet to medium heat and stir in the corn kernels. Cook, stirring often, until the corn has started to turn golden brown, 5-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside. Chop or crumble the bacon into bite-sized pieces.
While the bacon and corn cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the boxed directions. Remove 1/2 cup pasta water before draining the pasta. Pour the drained pasta back into the now empty pot.
While the pasta cooks, scoop out the flesh of the avocados and place in the bowl of a food processor or blender, with the garlic, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, basil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Process until completely smooth. With the machine running, pour in the reserved pasta water until the mixture is smooth again. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
Scrape the avocado mixture into the pot with the pasta. Toss until the pasta is completely coated. Divide the pasta between serving bowls, topping with the corn, bacon and roasted red peppers. Or, stir into the pasta directly. Serve with extra Parmesan cheese if desired.
Source: Adapted from Smells Like Home