I like to think of pasta as a blank canvas for whatever Ihave left in my fridge, a binder for all the random ingredients I’ve collectedbut don’t quite know what to do with yet. The best part is that the saucerarely has to come from a jar. A little olive oil, lemon juice, pasta water, oreven Parmesan cheese stirred right into the noodles can provide the creamy,cohesive texture we look for without masking the flavor of the other leftovers(er, I mean ingredients). 

The “kitchen-sink” pasta method is hardly a new invention.Pasta alla Puttanesca, a northern Italian dish consisting of olives, capers,anchovies, tomatoes, and peppers, supposedly originated in Italian brothels wherewomen had to make do with store room leftovers as it was unseemly for them togo to market.

I didn’t quite share their dilemma, but I did have a fewfarmer’s market remainders in danger of becoming overripe. Feel free tosubstitute anything and everything in this recipe—the canvas is yours.

1/2 pound spaghetti

1/4 red onion, sliced

2 summer squash (I used 1 zucchini and 1 yellow) sliced intothin ribbons

 1 tablespoon pine nuts

 Dash of salt

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes

Juice from half a lemon

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 oz Pecorino Romano cheese, shaved

Cook pasta according to package instructions. In a mediumsaucepan, saute red onion in a little olive oil until softened, about 2minutes. Add sliced squash, pine nuts, and salt, cook 4 to 5 minutes until soft. In asmall bowl, whisk together lemon juice and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add halvedcherry tomatoes and chile flakes to squash, heat through 1 to 2 minutes. Drainpasta, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water to add to pasta as needed. Toss pasta withzucchini mixture, lemon-olive oil mixture, and top with shaved Pecorino cheese.

Try this recipe for pasta with zucchini and roasted almonds(above) for another delicious variation or these Superfast Pasta Recipes foreven more not-from-a-jar ideas.