Avocados from Jo’s picturesque home in San Diego.
Rosemary from Amy’s adorable gnome filled garden.
Zucchini and squash from my mother’s backyard farmer’s market.
And tomatoes and garlic from my CSA.
I am one lucky girl. With all of these wonderful, fresh ingredients falling into my lap I couldn’t help but to break out a recipe that I learned from our good friends in San Diego (now transplanted in Montana) Donnie and Lara. It is a creamy, hearty pasta that is flavored with bits of garlic, specs of rosemary, loads of fresh veggies and a surprise appearance from an underestimated cheese.
During one of our frequent trips to San Diego, Donnie and Lara invited us to stay in their very charming, very rustic home in the hills of Escondido. I really loved their home. It was the kind of place where the neighbors cooked together, the dogs ran free and you could see the horse stable and the lake from the kitchen windows. To me it was a little like camping and in a very good way. You might have to watch out for spiders when you showered but at night everyone would gather around the fire, BBQ, sing Willie Nelson songs and get really drunk on cheap beer. One night while the boys were slaving away at the grill, I hovered over Lara in the kitchen watching her effortlessly put together a peach cobbler and unique and colorful pasta without once picking up a cookbook. I completely admired her and I was really trying my hardest to not look like a city girl and kept telling stories about how I grew with a rodeo queen mom and have a mamaw and a papaw that live in Texas. She probably thought I was a little strange but she was very sweet to me and was more than willing to share her kitchen and her recipes.
The peach cobbler was delicious but the pasta truly stole the show. The rosemary flavors the zucchini and squash very delicately, the tomatoes are heated until their skins get a slight wrinkle, and the mushrooms quickly absorb the garlic and olive oil. Toss all that delicious veg together with pasta and big chunks of smooth creamy Brie cheese and top with fresh avocado and find yourself a spot on the couch or even better in the yard and eat yourself into oblivion.
I’ve made this for backyard BBQ’s, weeknight dinners and have eagerly enjoyed leftovers for lunch.
Lara’s Creamy Brie and Veggie Pasta Salad
Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 10-15 minutes
1 lb of rotini pasta (any pasta that has ridges or a bit of shell will work)
1 medium zucchini cut into half moons
1 medium yellow squash cut into half moons
1 to 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup or cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
1 pint of mushrooms cut in quarters
2 cloves of fresh garlic chopped
1 avocado cut into pieces
6 oz of Brie Cheese with the rind cut off
Olive oil for sautéing
Salt and pepper to taste.
Step One: Put the pasta water on to boil. Chop veggies and get out your sauté pans. Add pasta to salted boiling water.
Step Two: Sauté rosemary, zucchini and squash with a little olive oil salt and pepper over medium- high heat for about 5 – 7 minutes. Set aside or put into your serving dish
Step Three: Sauté mushrooms, garlic and a little olive oil over medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes. In a separate pan, sauté the tomatoes with a little olive oil and salt for about 3-5 minutes.
Step Four: Pull the Brie apart in chunks and put it in your serving dish. Add the hot pasta and toss. The heat from the pasta will melt the cheese and coat the pasta. Add all your veg and toss again. Add your avocado, salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!
***Important: Your measurements don’t need to be exact. That is the beauty of this recipe. Now get cooking and have some fun!