Ask any millennials born in July about their birthday and they’ll recount a childhood colored by anxieties about the day: no classroom cupcakes, no gift-wrapped locker and an ever-present fear that no one will come to your party because everyone is at sleep-away camp or the beach or their grandma’s house.
As Cancer season comes to a close (and a milestone birthday of my own approaches), I dedicate this week’s newsletter to the Cancers, Leos and Virgos who may have complicated feelings about their birthdays. Below are the summer zodiac signs as summery pastas — practical, comforting, a little extravagant and, just like you, worth celebrating.
Cancer ♋: This bountiful pasta of browned eggplant, quick tomato sauce, cooling mozzarella and Parmesan-packed bread crumbs from Kay Chun is playful yet soothing, ideal for the comfort-seeking water sign. Cancers who crave the familiar may be especially drawn to the way this weeknight-friendly spin on eggplant Parmigiana evokes the traditional version. There are no surprises here, only the crunchy, creamy bites you’d expect from the Italian classic, with the pasta you might serve alongside it already built in.
Leo ♌: Are forty cloves of garlic excessive? Nonsense. Much like the sun-ruled fire sign, this pasta from Ali Slagle strikes a balance between showy opulence and confident boldness. With a little attention, the garlic softens and sweetens, illuminating its gentler edges. The results are ragùlike, and Leos may appreciate the sophistication achieved with so few ingredients. The recipe calls for canned crushed or whole tomatoes, but use peeled fresh summer tomatoes if you’re feeling fancy. Which you are.
Virgo ♍: In a single 20-minute meal, Alexa Weibel perfectly evokes the pragmatic swagger of this industrious earth sign. Every step in her one-pot zucchini-basil pasta is thoughtful, logical and necessary, nary a gimmick in sight. The cooking liquid for the pasta — vegetable stock — is also the base of the sauce, and this exacting approach leaves the noodles cooked at the same time that the liquid is reduced to a thick creaminess. And because Virgos attend to every detail, there’s a vibrant gremolata for garnishing, too.