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8 Easy and delicious summer pasta dishes

Pasta Dish

Alan Richardson | Getty Images

Leigh Anderson - published on 06/19/17

Quick, light and produce-filled dinners that will feed (and please!) a crowd.

It’s almost officially summertime, which means bathing suits, lemonade, and farmers’ markets. No, not the sad farmers’ market of January, with its meager selection of potatoes and onions, but the glorious produce bonanza of early to mid-summer, tables piled high with colorful fruits and veg. It’s enough to make even the most casual cook start dreaming of easy weeknight suppers on the back deck — all with fresh produce as the star of the show.

But if you’re anything like me, you’re thrilled at the sight of fresh greens and plump tomatoes — but have absolutely no idea what to cook with any of it. Well, never fear: the natural marriage of pasta and vegetables is not only a scrumptious way to showcase that produce, but a quick and easy crowd-pleaser. So if you’ve got some goodies from the farmers’ market (or your own garden) and 30 minutes to throw together a meal, these pasta recipes are for you.

Pasta with egg and asparagus

Pasta Dish
Gina Homolka| Skinny Taste

Asparagus is in season, which means it will be at its peak flavor and lowest prices. Buy as much of it as you can and roast, steam, and saute it until you’re so tired of asparagus you won’t even think of it until next May. (That’s what I do, anyway.) Check out this awesome recipe from Skinny Taste, which uses egg as a binder, turning what might otherwise be just plain pasta into a summery carbonara.

Eggplant Pasta with Red Pepper and Tomato

Pasta Dish
Erin Clarke | Well Plated

I had literally never eaten eggplant except in eggplant Parmesan dishes until I came across this recipe, from Erin at Well Plated. Honestly, I’ve always thought of eggplant as a “winter” vegetable, but now, thanks to this summery mélange of tomato, red peppers, olives, garlic, it will make its summer debut on my back porch this July. Just add some crushed red pepper flakes for spice, serve it in a family-sized pot, and then reward yourself with that second glass of wine.

Zucchini and Yellow Squash Spaghetti

Pasta Dish
Photo courtesy of Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Isn’t summer squash the prettiest of all the warm-weather produce? Mix zucchini and yellow squash in this recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, and you’ve got a meal that’s both beautiful and healthy. The lemon zest gives it a summery brightness, and Mel claims that her kids couldn’t even distinguish between the julienned veg and the Parmesan-sprinkled spaghetti. Win-win-win!

Pesto Squash Noodles And Spaghetti With Burst Cherry Tomatoes

If you’ve got a paleo person in your life, you’re probably familiar with the practice of substituting julienned zucchini or spaghetti squash for pasta to cut down on carbs. This recipe, from Cookie and Kate, is the best of both worlds, and is easily modified to be entirely low-carb if that’s your goal this summer. The most delicious part about this dish is the handful of pecans thrown in for crunch. Add some warm, burst tomatoes and you’ve got a dish overflowing with summery goodness that still feels light in calories.

Easy Pasta Summer Salad

Pasta Dish
Photo courtesy of Two Peas And Their Pod’s

There’s really no such thing as a cookout without pasta salad. It’s portable, delicious served cold, and showcases the best of summer’s veggies. For a side dish that will compliment any burger or steak, check out Two Peas And Their Pod‘s pasta salad recipe, which uses farfalle (easy to eat off a paper plate), basil, tomatoes, and a handful of feta for a salty kick. Pair it with a piece of corn on the cob and you’re ready for any picnic from June to August.

Summery Crushed Herb Pasta

Once you’ve eaten all the asparagus, zucchini, and tomatoes you can manage, switch to summer herbs. In this heavenly recipe from Posie Harwood at Food52, the other summer greens get their proper due. Saute some marjoram, parsley, sage, and a couple of other seasonal herbs in a garlicky butter sauce, and toss with fettuccine. Sprinkle on some more fresh-cut herbs, and you’ve got a cheerful, bright green bowl of summer greeting you for dinner. If you really want to get decadent, add a few slices of fresh mozzarella on top, then dig in!

Fresh Tomato and Ricotta Whole Wheat Pasta

Pasta Dish
Photo courtesy of FoodieCrush

This one, from FoodieCrush, sneaks in some spinach with your ricotta — that all-purpose world’s best food — and pairs it with whole wheat noodles for extra fiber and vitamins. Wilt some spinach with the basil, and top with the cheese for a creamy (but still healthy) one-pot meal.

Corn and tomatoes

Pasta Dish
Kimberly Killebrew | The Daring Gourmet

Corn and tomatoes accompany pretty much every meal I make in July, and sometimes I like to give them center stage. This mix of sweet corn and roasted cherry tomatoes, from The Daring Gourmet, makes a colorful sauce for spaghetti. Toss in a handful of basil and you’ve got a meal that tastes like the fourth of July.

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