As spring transitions to summer, a lot of fun, promising produce is available with the best of spring and the best of summer both still available to work with. This dish tends a bit more towards spring-time (especially since the weather is pretty steadily at 100°F+ everyday here lately), but you get the idea. This pasta dish has sautéed Italian sausage, a light, creamy sauce flavored with Parmesan and a fistful of basil but the stars are asparagus and squash blossoms.
As summer squash starts to take off, they put off a ton of blossoms (and baby squash), which, if you’ve never had them, are well worth a try. They’re a bit milder and delicate in both texture and flavor compared to their fully matured siblings, but they are still distinct and quite pretty. The easiest way to get a hold of squash blossoms if they’re not at your farmer’s market: plant summer squash/zucchini in your backyard (they simply don’t last long once picked so they’re not really practical to find for sale). The most common recipe you’ll find for squash blossoms will focus on stuffing them with cheese and deep frying them, and while that’s delicious, I don’t think it lets you fully appreciate the actual squash blossom.
This dish is light fare and will hit the spot if you’re looking for something appropriate and satisfying for a warm day. I’d pair this with a medium-bodied, dry white wine (I’m thinking a French/Italian Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc) or a Provencal Rosé.
- 1 lb penne
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 2 green onions/1 vidalia onion
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1 lb hot italian sausage
- 2 green garlic/1 head of “normal” garlic
- 1 lb asparagus
- 1 lb squash blossoms
- big handful basil
- 1 Tbsp butter
First, get all the prep out of the way. This means dicing the green onions, squash blossoms, asparagus, and green garlic. Chiffonade the basil and grate the parmesan, setting it aside for now.
And don’t forget to cook your pasta during all of this.
At this point, cook the sausage in a pan. Remove any casings, crumble into bite-sized pieces, and brown until cooked through. Set this aside on a plate and then sauté the asparagus in the leftover fat from the sausage for about 7 minutes. Add in the green garlic and squash blossoms for about 2 minutes further. Set all of this aside with the sausage.
Now onto the sauce. In a pot, melt the butter and add the flour. Stir this regularly over medium heat, making a roux for about 3-5 minutes. Then, add in the green onions, sautéing for 5 minutes in the roux.
Deglaze the pan with white wine. Let this reduce for about 5 minutes to intensify the flavor before adding the cream. I thinned the sauce a bit further by adding 1/3 cup of the water the pasta was cooked in (do this to your liking). Add the parmesan at the last minute, stir to incorporate, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Finally, bring everything together in a large pan/bowl–the pasta, the sautéed sausage/vegetables, the sauce, the basil, and a tablespoon of butter to further enrich things. Toss this well until everything is nicely coated, serve a plate, and enjoy!