Cathie Campbell

Summertime meals

Team your favorite pasta with chicken and asparagus in a creamy sauce.
Team your favorite pasta with chicken and asparagus in a creamy sauce. Linda Augustine

Are you always on the look out for tasty recipes you can use during the summer months? I do a lot of outdoor grilling in summer, but I also spend a fair amount of time in my kitchen, or cooking when I visit my mom over in Gilroy. I hope you see at least one recipe here you will want to try. They are divided half and half into vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes. I also hope you are enjoying your summer and stay safe in your travels.

Chicken and asparagus pasta

8 to 12 ounces of your favorite pasta shape (I like bowties)

1 to 2 cups chopped cooked chicken

1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed

 1/2 cup chicken broth

1 cup reserved pasta water

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

 1/4 cup half and half, cream or milk

 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

 1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 or 2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Cook pasta as directed on package. Add asparagus to the water during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain and set aside. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.

2. While the pasta is cooking, saute the minced garlic in a large skillet over medium heat for about 3 to 4 minutes, being careful to avoid letting it burn.

3. Add chicken, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes to the skillet. Saute another 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, half and half (or cream or milk), cream cheese and half of the Parmesan to the chicken mixture, stir until well mixed.

4. Add the cooked pasta and asparagus to the skillet and stir well until combined. If pasta seems dry add reserved cooking liquid a little bit at a time, stirring over med low heat until desired consistency is reached. Top with remaining Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.

Tandoori chicken skewers

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs

8 ounces plain yogurt

 1/4 cup dry tandoori spice (see note)

 3/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 teaspoons canola oil

4 long metal skewers

Note: You can mix your own tandoori spice with mild curry powder and paprika in equal portions, and add a bit of cayenne if you want more heat.

1. To marinate chicken: Trim any fat from the chicken thighs and cut each one into 3 or 4 pieces. Set aside one heaping tablespoon of the spice mixture for later. Mix the yogurt and the rest of the tandoori spice in a medium-sized bowl. Put the chicken into the yogurt mix and mix well so that all pieces are well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in refrigerator for 4 hours or longer. Prepare an outdoor grill so that it is hot and oil the grate.

2. Thread the chicken pieces evenly onto 4 metal skewers and spread any yogurt mixture that stays in the bowl onto the meat. Sprinkle just one side of the meat with half the leftover Tandoori spice and salt and pepper generously. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of the oil onto the meat as well.

3. Put the meat seasoned side down onto the hot grill. Now sprinkle the meat with the rest of the Tandoori spice and more salt, pepper and oil. Grill the skewers for 2 minutes before turning. If the meat tends to stick, use a metal spatula or tongs to free it. Grill the other side for 2 or 3 minutes and then turn the meat  1/4 turn to grill the undercooked sides for a minute or two. Depending on the heat of the grill, the chicken will be cooked thoroughly in 8 to 10 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Summer corn salad

I find it necessary to sweeten this a bit in order to offset the acidity of the lime juice. This tastes even better the next day.

8 ears fresh sweet corn or 4 cups frozen corn kernels

1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 small red onion, minced

3 large tomatoes, chopped, or 25 grape tomatoes, cut in half

 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

 1/3 cup lime juice

 1/3 cup olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Cut the fresh corn off the cob (or use frozen corn) and cook in a saucepan of water until done, about 5 minutes; drain corn. Do not overcook the corn kernels.

2. When corn has cooled off, mix in a large bowl with remaining ingredients, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes about 6 cups.

Ratatouille rigatoni

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

2 small eggplant, cut into strips, diced

1 yellow squash, cut into strips, diced

1 zucchini, cut into strips, diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed, diced

1 can (8-oz.) diced tomatoes

Several branches fresh thyme

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

1 box (12-oz.) rigatoni pasta

1. In a large saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil, onions and a pinch of salt. Saute onions until softened and then add garlic. Once garlic is softened and fragrant, stir in diced eggplant, squash, zucchini and red pepper. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add canned diced tomatoes and thyme branches and continue to stir, making sure vegetables don’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Reduce heat slightly and allow vegetable mixture to simmer.

2. While the vegetables cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook rigatoni according to package direction, about 10 to 12 minutes, then drain pasta.

After vegetable mixture has simmered and thickened for about 15 minutes, taste and season accordingly. Remove thyme branches. Add cooked rigatoni to saute pan and stir. Either serve immediately or refrigerate if you wish to serve it chilled. Makes 4 servings.