In weather like this—here in New York we had a scorcher of a Forth of July weekend—I’ll find my way to the beach the way birds migrate south, the way flowers turn towards the sun, the way sleepeaters get to the fridge. The body knows it needs the sea breeze and saltwater plunge before the mind does.
Food is usually an afterthought. I’ll toss odds and ends—carrots and radishes, a bunch of grapes, leftover salads, bread, cheese, crackers, whatever—into the cooler with a few ice packs and/or frozen water bottles. But planning ahead has its rewards, and this “beach linguini” has been a hit two years in a row. Last summer I made a batch for my friend Lesley’s and my annual Fire Island day trip. Then this past weekend, it functioned as leftovers. I served the cold linguini for dinner on Saturday night, then took the rest out to the beach.
I can’t explain why long pasta is so much more appealing here than the more typical short ones like penne or fusilli, but—just look at that picture. I thought it was enough to merit a post. Happy summer. Wear sunscreen.
Beach Linguini with Tomato, Zucchini, Mint, and Pecornio
Serves 4 to 6
1 pound linguini
1 pound small, firm zucchini (3 or 4 medium, 6 small), coarsely grated
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional for pasta cooking water
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium ripe tomatoes, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 medium shallot, minced
1/4 cup grated pecorino
1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped basil
1 tablespoon good, fruity olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Lemon juice to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Cook the pasta in well-salted water until al dente, usually about 9 minutes or according to package instructions. Drain and rinse well under cold running water, then drain again very thoroughly.
2. Meanwhile, combine the grated zucchini with 1/2 teaspoon salt in a fine-mesh colander or sieve and let stand for 10 minutes. Squeeze or press out as much liquid as you can.
3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in zucchini and cook, stirring periodically, until it begins to brown in parts. Stir the garlic, raise the heat slightly, then add the tomates and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook just for a minute or two, until the tomatoes begin to break down. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
4. Toss the zucchini with the pasta. Add the shallot, cheese, mint, basil, finishing olive oil, pepper flakes, lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon, and many grinds of black pepper. Adjust seasonings as needed—though be aware that the flavors will develop as the pasta sits, especially on the lemon and chili flake front—then pack into containers and store in the fridge until ready to serve.