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the familiar

Recipe: pasta with summer squash, sausage, and goat cheese

There has been quite a bit of instability in that part of the atmosphere sitting over my house. It makes for interesting weather: sun, rain, hail, winds, cold, warm, frost and one of my favorites:


But today we are back to sunshine, although our afternoon thunderstorms are pretty much here to stay for the summer – and I welcome the rain and cooling off they bring each day. Kaweah has a knack for finding the very edge of the shade and then parking her furry self just outside of it.

too bad she isn’t a solar panel

School is out. I can tell this from the tent that my neighbor’s kids have pitched on their deck and the happy screams zooming past our windows, Doppler effect and all, every evening. It gets dark around 8:30 and we don’t eat until 9 or later. Kaweah petitions for dinner when the sun goes down, so Mother Nature fools her big time in summer (it’s a pain in the ass come winter when she starts begging around 3:30). The pine tree pollen orgy has not peaked yet, but my itchy eyes indicate the party is getting started. The foxes and the coyotes will be facing off and staking out their territory in our front yard, soon.

green gentian

We’ve lived here long enough that the trails we hike are recognizable even under 8 feet of snow. I know where the columbines will bloom. I know which scree fields the pika live in. I know when the stream flow will peak. I know what the light looks like in July versus October versus March. I know what the air smells like as the snowpack thaws from under the pine forest canopy. I know which cornices remain into late summer. I never thought I would treasure this sense of the familiar, but I do. I relish it and it feels like home. It may be a sign of getting older… I don’t really care. I rather think of it as a sign of happiness.

The seasonal transition also translates into a cooking transition. Less time in the kitchen and more time outside. We don’t have air conditioning (we don’t need it – that’s why we live here), but a hot oven in summer makes me *very irate*. Just ask Jeremy. So when I recently went flipping through my archives of Fine Cooking recipes, I had the “quick and easy” flag on the brain. This one looked particularly appealing with squash, sausage, goat cheese (there it is again – I love this stuff)…

fresh, easy, simple

I don’t cook much pasta and I think that is in large part because I am a noodle girl. That is, an Asian noodle girl. Every time I think “how about pasta?” images of somen, soba, udon, pad thai, pho, mi fun, bean thread noodles, tan mien, tsao mien, e-mien, lian mien, they all pop into my head. Pasta never had a chance (there aren’t many pasta dishes on the recipes page). So I like the simple recipes that involve some manner of vegetables and not a lot of sauce. Don’t get me wrong, I like sauce – I just don’t feel the need to have sauce with every pasta dish ever made.

quick choppy choppy

I used whole wheat pasta rotini, although honestly, if someone were to create whole wheat SpongeBob SquarePants pasta, I’d be the first in line to buy some – body checking little kids and their moms outta the way! [That’s right, we don’t own a TV, but my nephew turned me on to SpongeBob years ago.]

sauté squash, shallots, and sausage lickity split

The ingredient that has been winning my favor of late is goat cheese, because it’s creamy, light, and it doesn’t make my tummy hurt for hours afterward. My general practitioner, the woman who saved my life – TWICE, said it was a good source of calcium for ye lactose intolerant souls (that which I am). Plus, we have a local provider, Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy and I try to support them when I can. Nope, they didn’t ask me to promote them – I’m just telling you what I like and don’t like. Would you have it any other way?

toss everything together

This recipe is like a Mr. Potato Head. You can swap out pretty much any and all components and still create deliciousness. I like my Italian sausage to be of the spicy persuasion because I find it adds more dimension and well… I’m Chinese. We love our spicy. I’ll give you my la jiao (hot sauce) when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!

i’ll shut up so you can take in the dish

Pasta with Summer Squash, Spicy Sausage, and Goat Cheese
[print recipe]
slightly modified from Fine Cooking #86

Kosher salt
1 lb. dried pasta (rigatoni, rotini, etc.)
3 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 lb. bulk hot Italian sausage (or links with the casings removed)
1/3 cup shallots, finely chopped (~3 medium shallots)
2 cups yellow and green summer squash, medium dice
3 oz. fresh goat cheese, crumbled (~3/4 cup)
2 tsps fresh flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (optional)

Add pasta to a large pot of boiling well-salted water and cook for about 10+ minutes or al dente. While the pasta is cooking, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a sauté pan and cook the sausage, breaking it into small bits with spatula until cooked through. Drain off the fat and reserve the sausage in a bowl. Heat the rest of the oil in the same pan and sauté the shallots over medium heat until they are soft. Increase the heat to medium high and add the squash, sautéing until the squash softens. I tossed the sausage into the squash here and gave it a stir for a minute over medium high heat. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Place the pasta, sausage, and squash in a large bowl together and toss with a few tablespoons of the pasta water. Add the goat cheese and parsley and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with grated cheese.

44 nibbles at “the familiar”

  1. TheKitchenWitch says:

    That lightning pic is a-ma-zing! Wow. The pasta looks great, too. Add me onto the list of Haystack Mountain lovers–they make a great product.

  2. kat says:

    have to agree. Photo is incredible.

  3. Fiona says:

    Excellent. Any excuse to eat summer squash has my vote. BTW, I just pulled a streusel-y recipe from your October 2008 archive. I’m making blueberry cobbler tonight, and I couldn’t find what I wanted in one piece. So I’m faking the funk on the berries and using your topping.

    I can’t believe you got a photo of lightning. Crazy.

  4. ruthie says:

    Mmm. I am going to the farmers market tomorrow and getting my favorite goat cheese and some veggies and making this.

  5. sara says:

    I’ve made this recipe from Fine Cooking too, and I similarly LOVED it! It has such a great interplay of flavors, plus it’s easy to put together. Yum! Your photos are gorgeous. :)

  6. peabody says:

    It is like Mr. Potato Head. ;) Though I hope not to find any body parts in mine. :P

  7. Memoria says:

    Oh, this looks so good!!

  8. Valérie says:

    Damn it, I was all excited about making pizza tonight, and now all I can think of is pasta! It looks really good!

    I think I tried making spaghetti Asian-style once… Not my finest idea…

  9. Rosa says:

    I love such easy, yet extremely flavorful dishes! Great lightening shot! I always enjoy your pictures of Kaweah and all your nature photos….



  10. Mrs. L says:

    Love the lightning photograph and the pasta dish looks wonderful.

  11. Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary says:

    They do have Spongebob pasta – kinda. Kraft makes Spongebob Mac ‘n Cheese. It’s not whole wheat, but it is damn cute.

  12. Lily says:

    Beautiful pictures! I love the lightning picture! And your pasta recipe looks delicious!

  13. Ninette says:

    This kind of dish is right up my alley. The lightning picture is quite “striking”!

  14. Kathy says:

    Your photos are beautiful! Not to sound like a wimp, but are slightly scared of hungry coyotes with Kaweaha around? Or would she kick their ass?

  15. Dragana says:

    Lovely pictures once again, but this time what caught my eye is Kiawah’s shiny coat. She is the picture of health. What do you feed her? I think I need to change my dogs’ diet. They have started to scratch a lot more lately. Thanks for any info.

  16. Dragana says:

    I meant ‘Kaweah’!

  17. Kitt says:

    This looks great. I love the addition of sausage.

    I can get you some elk pasta next time I’m near Ikea …

  18. charlane says:

    sounds very yummy

  19. Manggy says:

    You don’t like too much sauce? Mark Bittman is fuming! (Ha ha, I, uh, forgot the link for that one. I think it was a Batali vs. Bittman opinion on how much sauce to pasta is good.) As much as I love my pasta, I love my noodles too. As long as none of them are mushy! I just had extremely sad ramen last night because it was raining so hard.
    Ahem. Anyway, I also love these simple recipes, and I may not have an ounce of Chinese blood in me (that I know of) but I also love my spicy, yeah!! :)

  20. Caitlin says:

    I’m convinced everything is better with goat cheese – especially locally-made goat cheese. I’m not as much a noodle girl for two reasons – running = spaghetti and Irish = potatoes. I’ve got my starch intake down.

  21. Carol, Simply...Gluten-free says:

    Love that lightning shot. Yesterday we had thunder,lightning, torrential downpours,60 MPH winds and calm peacefull sunshine all in the space of 2 hours. Don’t you just love mother nature!

  22. Barbara says:

    Your comment about no air conditioning made me wonder where you lived as few people can say that and mean it. Wasn’t hard to figure with Boulder restaurant reviews and mention of Haystack cheese, so in a global sense, we are close neighbors although you’re at a higher elevation; we’re in the plains!

    Anyway, I love this recipe and am a pasta fan. Although fond of a simple tomato and butter spaghetti sauce, my family has often subsisted on dishes like this; dinner would often only require a trip outside to our small garden to see what fresh veggies were available, saute, add to pasta, maybe some leftover chicken or flank steak and season with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and some type of cheese…until like you, we discovered how wonderful goat cheese is with those combinations. Smooth and creamy and with that little tang; who needs sauce anyhow! Amazing how many different combinations are possible and I’ll bet are just as good with your beloved noodles!

    Sadly, I can not see a lightening strike without being overwhelmed with emotion as my daughter’s best friend was hit one beautiful summer afternoon on a golf course in CO Springs and after three years of life in a vegetative state, recently passed away. For me, their beauty is forever blemished with such an intimate knowledge of their power.

    Great blog; thanks.

  23. Ruth says:

    Everytime I receive your weekly update is like expecting a small yet incredibly meaningful present!!! while many blogs try to combine small bits and pieces of the author’s daily living with a particular plate, you seem to do it in a very artistic, casual and warm kind of way…I am so glad I found your blog, you are extremely talented and it is a delight to see photos and read you, you transport anyone right there where you are and it’s wonderful!!

  24. Kevin says:

    A nice simple and tasty pasta. The Italian sausage would add a ton of flavour.

  25. Peter says:

    Gorgeous pics from start to finish. I would like a bowl of the pasta with the goat cheese, please and TY!

  26. Jess says:

    You had me at zucchini.

  27. Asianmommy says:

    I love your lightning picture.

    The pasta looks so good, but I agree with you–I’m a noodle girl, too. :)

  28. Tartelette says:

    Such a poetic post Jen! Finding the beauty in what surrounds us is a sure key to happiness. Made me all warm and tingly to read this.
    This pasta dish looks absolutely delicious! I still hold high hopes to have us “noodling” together one day!

  29. Erin says:

    I spent part of the morning perusing your blog and it looks fantastic. Always a treat to find new recipes to try and it’s so much more fun when there are pictures to go with it. You photograph food beautifully! Also, it was great to meet you. I was wishing I had taken you up on that chocolate cake after lunch today. Yum.

  30. Aran says:

    that first photo with the lightning reminds me of some of the terrifying storms we had in denver, but so beautiful to look at. the dish looks perfect and yes, school is out and summer is in the air!

  31. Y says:

    Hehe yes.. I always have chilli in some form, in the kitchen, and it goes on nearly everything.. except maybe desserts.

  32. Mrs Ergül says:

    Whole wheat pasta is on my to-try dish! I have never bought that and I know I should. I love your darling pasta recipe. I know I will like this too! Yay!

  33. jenyu says:

    TheKitchenWitch – don’t they? Love that stuff :) Girlfriend, I see you’re coming at us from CO, but wheres?

    Kat – thanks! I hope to get better ones in the coming months.

    Fiona – mmm, cobbler with fresh berries sounds terrific. love shooting lightning (so if i die by lightning strike, you’ll know why)

    Ruthie – good on ya!

    Sara – thanks!

    Peabody – ha ha ha ;)

    Memoria – it’s lovely and simple!

    Valerie – well, hopefully you chose one and made the other the following night? :)

    Rosa – thank you!! :)

    Mrs. L – thanks!

    Lisa – I’ve seen it! and to be honest, I’ve tried it :) Tastes the same. I wish they’d make more whole wheat pasta shapes (not just SpongeBob, but you know…)

    Lily – thank you.

    Ninette – ha ha ha!

    Kathy – um, Kaweah would kick no one’s ass :) Because she’s such a bad dog when outside, we never leave her out there unsupervised (even at night, she has an LED collar so we can see where she’s meandering). Most of the coyotes and foxes around here are much smaller than Kaweah. That said, they’re likely infinitely more intelligent than her…

    Dragana – We feed her Iams large breed standard lamb and rice kibbles. Yup! other brands make her coat turn brownish or give her *awful* gas. Awful for us, probably not for her ;)

    Kitt – When is IKEA going to come to Denver, anyway?!? Are you growing squash this year?

    Charlane – thanks!

    Mark – I dooo like sauce, but I want to have pasta from time to time without sauce. I guess b/c I like sauce I’ve always had pasta WITH sauce. So… just needed some variety. Rain = mushy ramen?!? o_O Yay spicy!!

    Caitlin – yes and yes! Ha ha, good for you, chica!

    Carol – I really do :) Weather is awesome!!

    Barbara – I live in Nederland, but there’s not much food news here ;) So Boulder is my extended hometown. I’m sorry to hear about your daughter’s friend. Lightning, as with all natural phenomena, is awesome in its sheer power and danger. I actually believe that more knowledge makes them even more awesome. Sometimes the most beautiful things are the most dangerous things. Either way, hope that you are all safe.

    Ruth – Ha ha! Thank you. That’s so flattering to hear because I just rattle on at random and it’s really more of “this is what I’ve been doing” and then “oh, and here’s a recipe” ;)

    Kevin – I love that Italian sausage (a little too much, must moderate)

    Peter – ;)

    Jess – I wish I had a neighbor with zucchini coming out of their ears! *sigh*

    Asianmommy – yay noodles!!

    Tartelette – noodling with you is very high on my list of things to do in this lifetime, my dear!

    Erin – thanks, hon! Great to meet you too. I hope we can hang and rip the runs this winter :) 50% of the time I bring food to my friends, just ask them ;)

    Aran – hope your little one is having a nice summer (and you too!!)

    Y – mmm, should we experiment with spicy desserts?!? :)

    Mrs. E – I don’t taste too much difference, but I’m not a pasta expert. I just know it’s better for you, so I try to sub it in as often as possible.

  34. Lori says:

    I just love the thunder. How on earth did you catch that shot?

  35. Jamie says:


    You are my inspiration. I made this tonight… one, cause it looked so good in the photos, and two cause my hubby said he wanted pasta tonight…

    Several changes though. I used leftover smoked mozzarella instead of goat and I added diced red pepper with the squash and spinach to wilt in at the end. All in all, it tasted like a pizza. I got heartburn, but that’s no big suprise- being preggo and all. My hubby LOVED it. And I mean LOVED it. Next time I think I’ll use mild sausage.

    Thanks Jen!


  36. palaisdeslys says:

    Yours pictures are beautiful! I like your blog!

  37. jenyu says:

    Lori – tripod and long exposure, and a lot of clicks and patience :)

    Jamie – your version sounds fantastic! yay!!

    Palaisdeslys – thank you.

  38. The Good Life on a Budget » Menu Monday - Whirlwind Edition says:

    […] Thursday: Pasta with Squash & Sausage […]

  39. Mollie says:

    Yum… I make something similar but baked… and it is a perfect “transitional season” dish. Not so heavy like a winter pasta, not as light as a salad. I love sausage and goat cheese with ANYTHING. I love it when the zuch and summer sausage get all sauteed and browned and crispyish around the edges. mmmmmmm

  40. jenyu says:

    Mollie – :) I just like all recipes that can use up zucchini!

  41. Lisa is Bossy says:

    OMG you caught LIGHTNING? How in the world do you catch lightning? Here I was having trouble (on my vacay) catching a flag flying straight in the wind… and you catch LIGHTNING? Seriously – did I already ask this? How do you catch lightning? And how many throw away shots do you get in doing so?

    OK I got that off my chest.

    I’m a noodle girl too – big time. Definitely Asian noodles. But now that I’ve started making more and more homemade pasta – I think I’m an Italian noodle girl too. (Catching up on the blog posts after being gone for what felt like, so long!)

  42. jenyu says:

    Lisa – patience :) actually, you just need a tripod, long exposure, and the right conditions! I’m sort of afraid of the pasta thing b/c I know if I start making my own, I will eat a ton of it and become twice as big.

  43. laurie says:

    I had this recipie a while back and it’s wonderful and i lost it. glad i found yours cause we love this dish. have you ever tried it with some fresh chopped garlic? it adds a nice spin on it and my family loves it. great picture of the lightning too

  44. csa 2012 week 8 « dolce vita verde says:

    […] pasta with summer squash, sausage and goat cheese […]

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