Too hot to cook Pasta will help keep the heat out of your kitchen

Pasta, noodles, lukshen … I can’t think of anyone that doesn’t love a dish that includes this earthy, simple ingredient. During the warm months of summer, pasta makes an appearance on my table several times a week.

Tiny pasta shapes such as orzo or stellini will give substance to a light summer soup — this, combined with bread and cheese, is a great casual supper. Last weekend a frittata made with spaghetti was a hit as a brunch dish.

Effortless, easy and elegant dishes can be created in a flash, allowing the cook to serve in a leisurely and comfortably cool fashion without spending a lot of time in a hot kitchen. The key is simple preparations that rely on pasta and tomatoes of excellent quality in combination with the natural goodness of summer’s rich bounty.

Pasta Preparation Primer:

• Always use a large pot for cooking pasta, even if you’re cooking a small amount.

• Get the water boiling furiously before adding pasta.

• Notice that as soon as you add the pasta the water stops boiling. Until the water returns to a boil, keep stirring the pasta manually. This will prevent the pasta from sticking.

• Salt in the water adds flavor to the pasta — add at least a generous pinch.

• Although most manufacturers indicate a cooking time, test doneness by tasting.

• If you are not going to use the cooked pasta within a short time, toss with a small amount of oil to prevent sticking.

• Nothing cools down as fast as pasta, so warm your pasta bowls before placing pasta in them


Summer Soup of Orzo, Zucchini and Tomatoes

Serves 8

2 Tbs. oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 green zucchini, diced

2 golden zucchini, diced

6 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced

1⁄2 tsp. dried oregano

8 cups chicken stock

4 oz. orzo or stellini

salt and pepper

2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

1⁄4 cup chopped basil or flat leaf parsley

In large saucepan heat oil. Cook onion until soft, about 4 minutes. Add zucchinis, tomato and oregano and sauté about 4 minutes. Add stock, bring to a boil and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in medium pot of boiling water, cook orzo or stellini 9 minutes. Add to cooked soup. Taste for salt and pepper and swirl in the balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with basil or parsley.


Spaghetti Frittata with Mixed Sweet Peppers

Serves 6

8 oz. spaghetti

6 Tbs. oil or butter

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1 small red pepper, diced

1 small yellow pepper, diced

6 eggs

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

2 Tbs. olive oil

basil leaves for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook spaghetti without breaking by holding the bunch at one end and submerging the other end in boiling water. It will naturally bend and fit itself into the pot. Cook 10 minutes. Drain and let cool.

In large nonstick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil. Sauté onions, and peppers until soft. In large bowl beat eggs with salt, pepper and cheese. Add spaghetti and peppers. Stir well to combine. In same nonstick skillet, heat oil. Add spaghetti mixture to skillet and smooth top with spatula. Cook over medium heat about 8 minutes. Bottom should be golden brown. Slide onto large plate and then invert frittata back into skillet. Cook another 7 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove to serving plate and garnish with basil. Cut into wedges and serve. May be served hot, warm or room temperature.

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].