Pasta with roasted summer squash

This week, Claud was out of town on a business trip. Jack is away in England and Daphne is working a lot. So, I had a lot of free time. I took that opportunity to get together with some good girlfriends of mine.

Karen and I met at a Chinese restaurant for lunch during her work break. All of her kids were also out of town. She only gets a half hour lunch break. I go in a few minutes early and order our veggie lettuce wraps. This way, they are ready when she arrives and she doesn’t have to rush to finish before she needs to go back to work. We have done this several times and are pretty good at it by now.

Karen and I had so much fun during lunch that we decided we would get together the next night to eat snacks and sip wine at my place. I made us fresh guacamole and she brought over a vegetable tray and a bottle of wine. She and I did a lot of catching up that night. At one point, we were sitting on the floor of my closet going through old pictures. I don’t think she left until well after midnight.

A couple of nights later, I decided I wanted to have another girl’s night at my place. I invited Karen to return and I also asked my friend, Tatiana, to join us. I informed them that I would cook us some food if they brought the wine. They agreed. I thought we could Jacuzzi, watch movies, eat dinner, drink wine, and talk. I told them to bring a swimsuit and pajamas. They could sleep over if they liked.

That day, I thought about different ideas of what I could make for this middle-aged slumber party. My first thought was popcorn, chips and dips. I love popcorn. Then, I remembered that popcorn gives me heartburn if I eat too much. I always eat too much. Since this was not going to be a teenage sleepover, I thought maybe I should make the food a little bit more sophisticated and healthy. After all, we aren’t spring chickens anymore.

I decided to roast vegetables and pour these over some delicious pasta. This way, we could eat it hot when they arrived or eat it cold later on during the movie and after our dip in the Jacuzzi. This was a very versatile dish. I bought some brown rice pasta recently and thought I would give that a try. Brown rice pasta is perfect for people who are avoiding gluten. I have tried gluten free pasta before and it was never that good but this new package looked promising.

I had some delicious looking and adorable miniature summer squash. There were tiny zucchinis, green and yellow squashes in the bag. Summer squash grows all over the United States. Often times, I see it at the local farmers markets. I just love the miniature variety because they are so cute. However, the larger mature version is also really tasty. Summer squash can be used in stews, salads, soups or eaten on their own. You can even enjoy them raw with some humus or ranch dip. There are so many different varieties, shapes and sizes. In fact, the patty pan squash looks like a flying saucer.

As I read through some of the amazing health benefits of squash, I ran across a study which proved that the manganese in summer squash helps women battle the bad effects associated with Premenstrual Syndrome. Women who ate high amounts of manganese had fewer cramps and mood swings. I thought this seemed like the perfect compliment to a girl’s night in. I didn’t know if anyone was suffering from PMS, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to eat some healthy squash anyway.

The brown rice penne pasta turned out perfectly. It tasted and felt like the real deal. I was pleased. The roasted squash in its simple marinade went well with the pasta. The girls arrived and we decided to let the pasta cool while we sipped wine and chatted. Instead of a movie, we chose to watch a marathon of “Orange Is The New Black” on Netflix. None of us had watched this before. Now I am hooked. Once we had the show set up, I placed the huge bowl of pasta on the coffee table and handed everyone a plate and fork. We slowly ate through the entire bowl by the time we were on the fourth episode of the series. It was such a simple meal but perfect for the evening. I guess they liked it because there was nothing left when we went to bed.

Pasta with roasted summer squash

Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

teaspoon pepper

teaspoon oregano

1 16 oz. package of pasta, cooked according to directions on package.

2 cups summer squash, sliced

1 onion, sliced

5 mini zucchini, sliced

5 garlic cloves

4 small tomatoes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano. Stir in the sliced squash and other vegetables, onions and garlic. Coat everything in the olive oil mixture. Place these vegetables onto a baking sheet. Bake for twenty minutes. Turn the oven onto broil and broil these on high for another five minutes. Remove from the oven and pour over the cooked pasta.

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