Consumers tend to crave light, fresher fare in the summer months, but that doesn’t mean you have to subsist on just green vegetables. Summer pasta dishes can be every bit as healthy. Pair the noodles with vegetables and lighter sauces for a dinner that’s nutritious and still satisfies your carb cravings. See for yourself with these seven recipes.
1. Spaghetti with Oven-Roasted Tomatoes and Caramelized Fennel
Head to the farmers’ market to pick up some fresh tomatoes and fennel, then make this spaghetti with oven-roasted tomatoes and caramelized fennel from Saveur. It proves you can easily make pasta sophisticated with summer produce. This recipe serves two, and will come together in minutes once the tomatoes have roasted. Add a salad, and dinner’s done.
- 1 pound plum tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bulb fennel, cut into matchsticks
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 3 fresno chiles, finely chopped
- ½ pound spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 cup toasted bread crumbs
- Bottarga (salted fish roe)
Directions: Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Core and halve tomatoes lengthwise; scoop out seeds. In a bowl, combine tomatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, sugar, salt, and pepper; toss. Arrange tomatoes, cut side down, on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet; roast until very soft, about 3 hours.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add fennel; brown for 10 minutes. Add onion; cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add chiles; cook for 2 minutes. Chop and add tomatoes; set skillet aside.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, about 8 minutes. Strain, reserving ½ cup pasta water. Add pasta and its water to tomato mixture; toss. Put skillet over high heat; add parsley and remaining oil; cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and bottarga, if using.
2. Orecchiette with Sausage, Corn, and Chiles
Want to bring the heat this summer? Treat your dinner guests to this spicy pasta dish from Martha Stewart. The flavor of fresh corn and chiles really wakes up a basic plate of noodles. If your guests prefer a milder pasta, you can cut back on the chiles a bit.
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound orecchiette
- 8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 to 3 jalapeño or Fresno chiles, very thinly sliced crosswise
- 4½ cups fresh yellow corn kernels
- Sour cream, for serving
- Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving
Directions: Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, and then drain pasta.
Meanwhile, cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring to break into bite-size pieces, until golden brown and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer sausage to a plate; drain fat from skillet. Add butter to skillet, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add chiles and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Add corn and continue cooking until corn turns a deeper yellow and chiles are softened, about 2 minutes. Return sausage to pan along with pasta and toss to combine, adding enough pasta water to form a smooth sauce that coats pasta. Season with salt and pepper, and serve with sour cream and cilantro.
3. Shrimp Scampi with Angel Hair Pasta
Shrimp scampi is a summer staple, and you can make it at home with this recipe from Patrick and Gina Neely of Food Network. Some home cooks tend to leave shrimp scampi to the restaurant chefs, but when the directions are easy to follow and it takes only 20 minutes to make, there’s no reason you need to wait for a reservation. Grab your angel hair pasta, shrimp, wine, and butter, then get started.
- 1 pound angel hair pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 lemon, juiced, plus ¾ lemon, zested
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 5 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup chopped parsley leaves
Directions: Add the pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water, over medium heat, and cook until al dente.
Meanwhile, heat a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Once shimmering and hot, add the shrimp and saute until just cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a plate and reserve. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the skillet, then saute until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and white wine and raise the heat to high. Let the liquid reduce for 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the butter, add a ladle of the pasta cooking water and return the shrimp. Remove from the heat.
Drain the pasta in a colander, and add it to the skillet along with the chopped parsley and toss. Add the lemon zest and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately.
4. Pasta Salad with Melon, Pancetta, and Ricotta Salata
Pasta salad can get a bad rap, but we’re showcasing a recipe from Bon Appétit that’s a far cry from the soggy, mayo-laden mess you usually see. This pasta salad with melon, pancetta, and ricotta salata is light and fresh. It might sound unusual, but you’ll be delighted by this sweet and savory dish.
- 2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
- 4 ounces orecchiette
- Kosher salt
- 3½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2½ tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 2 cups 1-by-1-by-¼-inch pieces peeled melon
- ⅓ cup coarsely chopped fresh mint, divided
- 3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion
- of crushed red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ounce ricotta salata cheese, shaved, or crumbled feta
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange pancetta in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until brown and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Alternatively, place pancetta on folded layers of paper towels on a microwave-proof plate and microwave on high until brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Let pancetta stand until cool enough to handle, then break into bite-size pieces.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a medium pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta; run under cold water to cool. Drain and set aside.
Whisk oil and vinegar in a large bowl. Add half of pancetta, cooked pasta, melon, half of mint, scallion, and red pepper flakes. Toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle remaining pancetta and mint over. Garnish with shaved ricotta salata.
5. Spaghetti with Lemon Sauce
A light and fresh spaghetti is what you’ll be craving this summer, and this recipe from Cooking Channel‘s David Rocco definitely meets the criteria. You’ll make a lemon sauce from garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. Then add the cheese, pasta, and toss everything to coat. It doesn’t get easier or more delicious.
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 1 clove garlic, for rubbing
- 2 lemons (zest of 1 lemon, juice of 2 lemons)
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped
Directions: Place the spaghetti in a pot of boiling salted water and stir immediately to prevent the strands from sticking. Cook the spaghetti to al dente
Cut the garlic in half and rub the exposed area along the interior of a large serving bowl. The raw garlic flavor will coat the inside surface of the serving bowl. Discard the garlic. Add the freshly squeezed lemon juice and slowly drizzle in extra-virgin olive oil while whisking. Whisk until the ingredients have emulsified. Mix in the salt and cheese.
When the spaghetti is done, drain and add to the serving bowl. Mix the pasta with the lemon sauce to coat evenly. Sprinkle the pasta dish with Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley and lemon zest. Serve immediately.
6. Farmers Market Pappardelle
This light pasta from Epicurious is a summer veggie lover’s dream. It features everything from zucchini to corn to snap peas. Paired with the rich egg noodles, you get a dish that is both healthy and indulgent. Feel free to add any other veggies that look great at your market.
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons Sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1½ pounds multicolored cherry tomatoes, halved
- 3 ears corn, shucked
- 1½ pounds medium zucchini
- 8 to 9 ounces dried egg pappardelle or dried egg fettuccine
- ¼ pound sugar snap peas, strings discarded and peas halved diagonally
- ½ cup thinly sliced red onion (optional)
- 1 cup small basil leaves, torn if large
- ½ cup mint leaves
- ⅓ cup snipped chives
Directions: Bring a 6- to 8-quart pot of well-salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, mince and mash garlic to a paste with ½ teaspoon salt, then stir together with vinegar, oil, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add tomatoes and stir gently, then set aside.
Cook corn in boiling water until tender, 4 to 6 minutes, then remove with tongs and cool.
While corn cools, peel lengthwise ribbons from 1 side of a zucchini with vegetable peeler into another bowl, stopping when you get to the seedy core. Turn zucchini a quarter-turn, then peel more ribbons, stopping at core. Repeat on remaining two sides of zucchini. Reserve cores for another use.
Cut corn from cobs; add corn to tomatoes.
Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Just before pasta is done, stir in zucchini ribbons and snap peas and cook 15 seconds. Drain pasta and vegetables together in a large colander and add to tomato mixture with onion (if using), then toss gently. Add herbs and toss gently again.
7. Caprese Chicken Pasta
This chicken pasta from Well Plated by Erin screams summer with juicy tomatoes and fresh basil. The dinner takes just 30 minutes, so it’s great for an impromptu get-together. If you’re a Caprese salad lover, you’ll adore this dish.
- 8 ounces whole grain pasta, any shape you like
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus additional for the pasta
- 1¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into ½-inch cubes
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus additional for cooking the pasta
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved if large
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups roughly chopped fresh spinach
- ¼ cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves, sliced into thin strips
- 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
Directions: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente according to package instructions. Reserve about ½ cup of the pasta cooking liquid, then drain the pasta. Toss the pasta with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over high in a large, deep skillet. Add the chicken, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate, then carefully wipe the pan with a paper towel, being careful not to burn your fingers.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Let cook 1 minute, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 to 7 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to soften and wrinkle. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook 30 seconds.
To the skillet, add the drained pasta, reserved chicken, and spinach and let cook just until the spinach begins to wilt. Remove from heat and stir in the basil and mozzarella. Serve immediately.