- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Our family is always up for a good meal, whether at home or on vacation, but when the high 90-degree temperatures continue for days on end, our appetites wither.

It’s not that we’re not hungry; it’s just too hot to eat.

It’s time to redesign meals for summer. Serve more foods at room temperature or cold instead of hot. Crank up the flavors to be spicier, bolder and brighter.

It’s as if the food should jump from the plate with color and flavor, begging to be eaten.

Such is the case with this easy pasta entree featuring the fun twosome of sweet sugar snap peas and classic, salty prosciutto.

Sugar snaps are sold frozen, but they are better fresh and can be found ready to use in handy 8-ounce bags. They cook for a few minutes in the same pot as the pasta, which I love because sharing pans reduces cleanup.

Pass the pepper mill and the Parmesan cheese at the table, and round out the meal with a green salad, breadsticks, and lemon sorbet and raspberries for dessert.

Five time-shaving ways to top summer pasta

• Try a speedy carbonara. Top cooked spaghetti with crumbled bacon, heated heavy cream and grated Parmesan cheese. Toss and serve with black pepper.

• Add a handful of minced fresh herbs and a drizzle of good olive oil to cooked penne.

• Top the cooked pasta of your choice with roasted red pepper slices, drained canned tuna, olive oil and capers.

• Spoon sauteed zucchini slices and crumbled feta cheese over cooked penne or rotini.

• Add shredded roasted chicken, shredded Mexican-flavored cheese, and drained canned tomatoes seasoned with chilies to your favorite cooked pasta.

The preparation and cooking time is 16 minutes.

Rotini with prosciutto and sugar snap peas

Salt for cooking the pasta, optional

8 ounces rotini

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 ounces prosciutto, diced

cup chopped red onion

1 cup whipping cream

1 8-ounce package (1 cup) fresh sugar snap peas

Grated Parmesan cheese

Black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add salt, if using, and stir in the rotini.

Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook the rotini, uncovered, until al dente, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add prosciutto and red onion, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until onion is soft, about 3 minutes.Pour in the cream, increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.

Lower heat to medium-low and let mixture simmer, stirring often, until it has reduced slightly, 2 to 3 minutes.

After the rotini has cooked for 5 minutes, add sugar snap peas to the pot and cook them until they turn bright green and are crisp-tender. Drain rotini and sugar snaps well in a colander, shaking it a few times to remove any water that might still cling to the pasta.

Return rotini and sugar snaps to pot. Spoon the sauce over them and stir to coat the pasta well. Serve at once with Parmesan cheese and pepper on the side and allow guests to season to taste.

Makes 4 servings.


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