4 Summer Pasta Dishes You Can Make Without Simmering Sauce

Many of the tastiest pasta dishes involve reducing white wine, slowly simmering tomatoes, or braising meat. Making these time-intensive sauces always delivers fantastic flavor, but they also require hanging out near a stove that feels like the surface of the sun. While this isn’t an issue during the winter, it’s a lot less enjoyable when the temperature soars.

No one should have to wait until fall to enjoy a delicious pile of noodles, so we teamed up with Barilla’s Passion for Pasta campaign to bring you some fantastic summer recipes. These pasta dishes are all delicious chilled or at room temperature, so leftovers make for a phenomenal lunch. If you have leftovers, that is.

1. Shrimp, Avocado, and Goat Cheese Pasta Salad

orzo pasta salad with shrimp, avocado, and goat cheese

Shrimp, avocado, and goat cheese pasta salad | Lou Manna/Passion for Pasta

This healthy and hearty pasta salad is one of our favorite ways to get a meal on the table in no time. With plenty of shrimp, veggies, and pasta, it’s a complete meal. To make things even easier, purchase already cooked shrimp from your seafood counter. You can also bump up the veggies by stirring in a few handfuls of baby spinach.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Barilla Orzo
  • 1 pound cooked shrimp
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 6 ounces marinated, quartered artichokes in their liquid
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Directions: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook orzo according to package directions, drain, and cool.

Combine cooled orzo, shrimp, tomatoes, artichokes, and artichoke liquid. Fold in avocados, then season with salt and pepper. Top with goat cheese and parsley. Serve.

2. Spaghetti with Fresh Lemon and Basil

white bowl filled with spaghetti with lemon and basil

Spaghetti with lemon and basil | Source: Passion for Pasta

Made mostly from pantry staples, this citrus-flecked pasta is about as easy as it gets. The sauce is more or less a lemon vinaigrette you make by whisking the citrus juice with grated Parmesan and olive oil. Once the pasta’s cooked, add it to the same bowl with the remaining ingredients, toss, and eat.

As simple as this dish is, make sure you zest the lemons before juicing to make things as easy as possible. Also, don’t forget to reserve a little bit of the pasta cooking water before draining the noodles. This liquid acts like a binder to help the sauce cling to the pasta, so every bite is full of flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Barilla Spaghetti
  • ⅔ cup olive oil
  • ⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 lemons
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, plus more
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil

Directions: Grate lemons to yield 1 tablespoon zest, then juice until you have ½ cup juice. Whisk lemon juice with oil, Parmesan, salt, and pepper to combine. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until tender, but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water, then drain.

Add pasta to lemon sauce along with basil and zest. Toss, adding reserved water ¼ cup at a time to moisten. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper. Serve.

3. Orecchiette Pasta Salad with Strawberries

strawberry and orechiette pasta salad on a white plate

Orecchiette pasta salad with strawberries | Lorenzo Boni/Passion for Pasta

If you’re sick of mayo-laden pasta salad, this vibrant take on the summer classic is a welcome change. With sweet strawberries, creamy avocado spread, a vibrant dressing, and some crunchy pistachios, it’s about the most sophisticated twist you’ll ever taste. Though this method calls for individually plating each serving, you can easily turn it into potluck fare. Just sprinkle the cheese and nuts over the entire dish, then serve the avocado spread separately for guests to dollop over their portions.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Barilla Orecchiette
  • 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1 pound strawberries, sliced into rounds
  • 1 (5-ounce) package baby arugula
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ cup crumbled goat cheese
  • ½ cup chopped pistachios
  • Salt and pepper

Directions: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to directions, draining one minute before recommended cooking time. Toss with 1 tablespoon of oil and transfer to a baking sheet to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk olive oil into vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, then add poppy seeds. In a separate small bowl, mash avocado with lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and continue to mash until avocado is smooth.

Add berries, arugula, and pasta to bowl with dressing. Toss to combine. Spread avocado mixture onto plates, top with pasta salad, garnish with cheese and pistachios, then serve.

4. Cold, No-Bake Lasagna

summer lasagna with ricotta cheese, tomatoes, and zucchini

Cold, no-bake lasagna with summer vegetables | Source: Passion for Pasta

Lasagna goes light and fresh in this no-bake summer pasta. Though the vegetables are cooked separately, the process goes really fast. Then it’s just a matter of layering everything together.

If you’re intent on keeping your kitchen cool, you can grill the produce outside or even swap in some raw, marinated zucchini. Just slice the squash as thinly as possible, then toss it with a bit of lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. You can read more about this method by checking out a recipe from Food.com. If you decide to go with this alternative, just make sure to do it well in advance to allow the veggies to soften and absorb the flavors.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Barilla Lasagne
  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1½ cups fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1½ cups chopped fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1 pound zucchini, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 pint red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 6 tablespoons prepared pesto
  • Salt and pepper

Directions: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, transfer to a tray to cool, then drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil.

In a medium bowl, mix ricotta, mozzarella, and 2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Sauté zucchini, tossing occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, toss tomatoes with remaining oil and season with salt and pepper.

Build lasagna by layering pasta, cheese mixture, zucchini, tomatoes, then pesto. Repeat layers two more times. Serve chilled.

Follow Christine on Twitter @christineskopec

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