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Summer Pasta Skillet features zucchini and cherry tomatoes, spicy chicken sausage, spaghetti, and fresh basil  – simple, and perfect for summer!


We made some headway on the Summer Bucket List this weekend!


Saturday afternoon Ben and I packed the car up with our rods, tackle box, and determination, and made our way down to Big Creek Lake, about 20 minutes north of our house, for an afternoon of fishing!


Big Creek State Park has some awesome biking and walking trails, but it was the lake and all the fish we were after yesterday, on a hot but gorgeous summer afternoon.

Ben and I don’t know anything about fishing, but it’s a fun, quintessential summer activity that just has to be done, and we try and go at least a couple times every summer.


We setup shop on a long fishing pier, and immediately got excited when we could see oodles of massive fish jumping out of the water in any and all directions. SWEET!

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We cast our poles, cracked open a couple cold ones (PS am I the only one who can’t say cold ones without thinking of Edward and the rest of the Cullens??) and waited for the first catch.

And waited, and waited, and waited…

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THREE HOURS LATER we had absolutely nothing to show for our efforts, except for some empty beer cans, sun burns, and sweat dripping from our chins.


Those fish wouldn’t even eat my secret fish crack – biscuit dough! Every fish I’ve ever caught has been with biscuit dough, but the Big Creek fish must have been on Atkins for all they cared.


Oh well, it’s the company that counts and despite the heat and lack of fish, Ben and I had a great time. :)


Until 50,000 water snakes showed up and we all but ran screaming to the car. EEEEEK!

This morning I got the day started with a nice garden harvest! Up until today, all I’ve been able to pick is my herbs – parsley, chives, basil, and mint – and tons of kale. Which, don’t get me wrong, is awesome, but I’m ready for the GOODS – cucumber, tomatoes, watermelon, peas, and Brussels sprouts!


First, can we review the evolution of my garden? It tickles me so! ;)Here it is when my Mom and I planted on May 7th:

Then a little over a month later on June 12th:

And here it is today, three weeks later, on July 1st. My Sweet 100s cherry tomato plant is literally taking up 80% of the entire garden!


Today I was able to harvest my first cucumber,


and a smattering of the aforementioned Sweet 100s.


These are like candy, people. Indescribably sweet, and with a thin skin. SO GOOD – and homegrown!


I used my fresh-picked sweet 100s (well, what was left after taste-testing!) to make a garden-inspired Summer Pasta Skillet for dinner tonight.


Fresh zucchini and cherry tomatoes are sauteed in extra virgin olive oil and garlic, then tossed with spicy chicken sausage, spaghetti, and torn basil in this ultra-summery skillet supper.

The tomatoes get nice and hot in the skillet, then burst to create the most luscious, fresh-tasting sauce that goes perfectly with the spicy sausage, and garlicky zucchini. SO GOOD!


Start by sauteing 1/2lb spicy chicken sausage. I used this Spicy Italian Vino & Formaggio Chicken Sausage from Trader Joe’s, but you can use whatever is available. Regular spicy Italian sausage would be great!


Cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up as it cooks, until it’s no longer pink. Scrape the sausage out onto a plate, then set it aside.


Turn the heat down to medium then in the same skillet add 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and 4 sliced garlic cloves. Saute the garlic until it turns golden brown, stirring pretty much constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn, about 1 minute.


Next add 1 zucchini that’s been halved and sliced, season with salt & pepper, and saute for 4-5 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender.


Then add 10oz cherry tomatoes. So gorgeous, right?!


Place a lid on top of the skillet and let the tomatoes warm up until they’re nearly bursting.

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Meanwhile, cook 8oz spaghetti (gluten-free or regular) in a large pot of heavily salted, boiling water. My #1 pasta cooking tip is SALT THE WATER you’re cooking pasta in. You won’t believe how much of a taste difference it makes in the final dish!


When the spaghetti is al dente, reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain.


Add the drained spaghetti and cooked sausage into the skillet, then add enough of the reserved pasta cooking water to make a little sauce and make sure the pasta doesn’t stick together.

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Add some freshly grated Romano cheese on top, if you wish, and garnish with TONS of torn basil!


Summer Pasta Skillet


Summer Pasta Skillet features zucchini and cherry tomatoes, spicy chicken sausage, spaghetti, and fresh basil  - simple, and perfect for summer!


Serves 3-4

  • 8oz gluten-free or regular spaghetti, dry
  • 1/2lb spicy chicken sausage
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, halved and sliced
  • salt & pepper
  • 10oz cherry tomatoes
  • fresh basil
  • Romano or parmesan cheese, optional


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until no longer pink, breaking it up as it cooks. Remove to a plate and set aside. Turn heat down to medium and add extra virgin olive oil to the skillet. Add garlic slices and cook until they start to turn golden brown, about 1 minute. Add zucchini, season with salt and pepper, then saute until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add cherry tomatoes then place a lid on top of the skillet and allow tomatoes to get hot and tender, about 3 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  2. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water before draining.
  3. Add cooked chicken sausage and drained spaghetti into the skillet with the zucchini and tomatoes. Add some of the pasta cooking water to create a sauce and make sure pasta isn't sticking together Serve topped with torn fresh basil, and grated Romano or Parmesan cheese, if desired.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.


Filling, nutritious, delicious – and quick! It only took 20 minutes or so to put this dish together. Not bad for a Sunday night, throw-together dinner. :)

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Well I hope you all had a nice weekend, too. It went quick, don’t you think? Luckily it’s a short week ahead of us!

Have a great night!