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Rigatoni with summer squash, basil, and goat cheese

(jonathan levitt for the boston globe)
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July 30, 2008

Serves 4

Even right off their prolific vines, summer squash can be watery and sometimes bitter. Cook them slowly in plenty of olive oil and they turn sweet but stay moist and summery, so you can take advantage of the beautiful golden color. As you cook the sliced squash, mash the rounds against the sides of the skillet to break them up. Then toss the squash with rigatoni, leaves of fresh basil, and crumbled goat cheese. The bright yellow pieces of squash coat the tubular pasta and the mixture tastes as creamy as if you had added a white sauce. Basil leaves are soft and floral, and the goat cheese is just sharp enough to cut through the richness.

4 tablespoons olive oil
7 small summer squash, thinly sliced
About 20 fresh basil leaves, torn in half
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound rigatoni
1/4 cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1. In a large skillet over low heat, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the squash and cook, stirring often, for 30 minutes or until the squash soaks up the oil and is not at all watery. As the squash cooks, use a wooden spoon to mash it against the side of the pan. Stir in half of the basil leaves.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the rigatoni to the pot. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until the pasta is tender but still has some bite. Drain into a colander and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper; toss gently.

3. Tip the squash mixture into the rigatoni and toss gently. Top with the goat cheese and remaining basil leaves. Jonathan Levitt

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