Indian summer pasta

Prolong summer: You can get creative here by substituting the sausage with precooked shredded chicken. Or serve the dish as a vegetarian main course omitting the meat. (Diane Worthington/TCA photo)

Every year, I look forward to the time when summer drifts away into autumn. From a cook's point of view, I can recognize the signals: The tomatoes, corn, fresh herbs and summer fruits are slowly being replaced in the markets by sturdier produce fit for fall weather. At the change of the season, I have a compelling desire to enjoy all the tastes of summer one last time. That's how this dish came into being.

The light, simple sauce incorporates an array of seasonal vegetables and includes your choice of grilled sausages for a substantial main course. I like using precooked sausages that just need to be warmed through.

You can get creative here. I have substituted the sausage with precooked shredded chicken. I have often served the dish as a vegetarian main course omitting the sausage. Try grilled shrimp or scallops, or change up the Parmesan for Asiago or pecorino cheese. Or try it just as is.

I particularly appreciate how versatile this dish is. You can serve it hot, room temperature or even chilled. If you have any left over, refrigerate it and add some vinaigrette to make it into a pasta salad.

Indian summer pasta

Prep: 40 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Servings: 6 to 8

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds assorted sausages, sweet or hot
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 pound green beans, yellow wax beans or sugar snap peas, cut into 2-inch pieces, cooked until crisp-tender
2 1/2 pounds red and yellow tomatoes, peeled, coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound gnocchi shells, or other shape, see note
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Grill the sausages over medium-high-heat, rotating them on all sides until the fat runs clear, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a platter to cool; cut into 1/4-inch slices.

2. For the sauce, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic; cook, 1 minute. Add the green beans; cook, 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes; cook, stirring occasionally, until some of the liquid has evaporated, 5 minutes. Mash up the tomatoes with a potato masher. Add the corn; cook, 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add 1/4 cup basil, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the sausages; taste for seasonings.

3. Heat a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta; cook until al dente, 7-10 minutes. Drain well.

4. Stir the pasta into the sauce. Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with more basil and a few tablespoons Parmesan. Pass the remaining cheese separately.

Note: Gnocchi shells (sometimes also gnocchetti) come in a pasta shape that takes its name from the dumplings called gnocchi.

Nutrition information:
Per serving (for 8 servings): 468 calories, 19 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 57 g carbohydrates, 19 g protein, 607 mg sodium, 6 g fiber.

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