Great summer pasta recipes for delicious and easy summer entertaining or family meals: the top 19 summer pastas from Italian food influencers @mangiawithmichele and @flavorofitaly.
Listen to our chat about summer pastas here:
No-cook summer pasta recipes
1. Caprese pasta
This summer pasta recipe is a classic and quintessentially Italian with its red, green and white colors from the Italian flag.
All you need is garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, cubed fresh tomatoes and cubed fresh mozzarella - preferably buffalo - and fresh basil leaves. Decide on the ingredient quantities based on your own personal preference. I love lots of basil leaves and my husband always wants tons of tomatoes.
Peel and smash a garlic clove and let it sit for a few hours in ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil in your serving bowl so the garlic flavor can permeate the olive oil.
Good quality extra-virgin olive oil is key.
For this dish the ideal pasta is penne, rigatoni or another short chunky pasta of your choice. Cook the pasta in abundant salted boiling water until al dente.
Pro tip: How much salt? The pasta water should always taste like the sea.
While the pasta is cooking remove the garlic clove from the oil and add all your other ingredients to the serving bowl.
Drain the pasta, add to the serving bowl, toss and serve.
Note: You can also skip the pasta and have the rest of the ingredients as a salad for lunch.
2. Aglio, Olio Peperoncino summer pasta
Mince, chop or smash a garlic clove and add to ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil. Crumble and add one hot chili pepper (peperoncino). You can either let this sit for a few hours so the ingredients meld together or give it a 20 second sizzle stove top.
Mince one generous handful of fresh parsley and add at the last minute. Here's the recipe.
For this dish long pasta is your best choice: spaghetti or linguine are ideal. Also, I occasionally add anchovies to this recipe.
Cook the pasta until al dente and toss with all the ingredients in your serving bowl. Serve and enjoy!
3. Lemon summer pasta
There are a few ways to prepare this sauce depending on how indulgent you'd like to be. Here's the recipe. If you'd like to skip the cream and butter you can instead use milk and a little pasta water, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and a bit of lemon juice. Stir all the ingredients together until creamy, then add to your pasta.
I love to serve lemon pasta on dishes like this gorgeous lemon and lemon leaf design ceramic platter that's perfect for summertime serving indoors or out.
4. Pasta with Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes, Ricotta & Fresh Mint
Here's the recipe.
In Rome fresh ricotta is abundant and delicious, but you can usually find tasty ricotta in the United States and elsewhere as well. Always best to drain it and bring it to room temperature before using it in recipes.
5. Pesto Genovese
This is the classic pesto recipe made with basil leaves, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, extra-virgin olive oil and pine-nuts. When basil is in season it's great to make a ton of pesto Genovese to have on hand all year round. To preserve pesto Genovese blend the basil leaves, extra-virgin olive oil, a small garlic clove and pine-nuts together until the mixture reaches a creamy consistency. Then you can either freeze in an ice cube tray or put the pesto in jars covered with a layer of extra-virgin olive oil. Keep the jars refrigerated.
When you’re ready to serve the preserved pesto Genovese defrost a few cubes of the sauce, or spoon some out of the jars, and then add some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Check out these two posts about pesto and Ligurian food: Flavors of the Liguria Region and the Best Traditional Dishes in Genoa.
If you don't feel like making pesto you can buy it!
6. Pesto Trapanese recipe
This is a wonderful Sicilian summer pasta recipe. Blend basil leaves, freshly grated pecorino cheese (Sicilian pecorino is ideal), and cubed fresh tomatoes together until you have a creamy consistency. Stir in toasted minced almonds. Toss with cooked pasta and serve.
In Sicily sun-dried tomatoes are often used in place of fresh tomatoes and they add lots of extra wonderful flavor.
With both pesto Trapanese and pesto Genovese you can hand chop and mix all the ingredients together instead of blending them. It depends on the texture you like best, and your personal preference. Often when I’m on vacation and don't have a blender available I chop the ingredients by hand. Delicious both ways!
7. Zucchini Pesto
Here’s how Michele makes her summer zucchini pesto pasta.
Grate some zucchini, then salt. Drain for about half an hour. If necessary rinse off the salt. Process the classic pesto ingredients together: basil leaves, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, a small garlic clove, extra-virgin olive oil and toasted nuts of your choice. I always go with pine-nuts, pistachios or almonds. Add the zucchini to the mixture.
Quick cook summer pasta recipes
8. Smoked salmon, Mascarpone, freshly grated Parmesan cheese & parsley
While your pasta cooks - penne are ideal - sauté half of a finely minced small onion in 2 tablespoons butter. Add 100 g of chopped smoked salmon and ¼ cup Mascarpone. Warm slightly then toss in 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley. Toss with the pasta. Here's the recipe.
9. 'Nuda Spaghetti with Slivered Zucchini and Arugula
'Nduja is a delightful spicy Calabrian spreadable pork paste that adds wonderful umami flavor and just a bit of heat to this fabulous summer pasta recipe. You can purchase 'nduja here. Here's the recipe for this pasta dish.
Other favorite summer pasta recipes
Summer Seafood pasta recipes:
10. Spaghetti with clam sauce recipe
This is always a favorite summer pasta recipe and wonderful when you spend vacation time on the seaside and have access to fresh clams. I have a few secret tweaks in my recipe that make this summer pasta extra special.
11. Linguine with Shrimp, Tomato and Zucchini recipe
12. Spaghetti with a Spicy Tomato Anchovy Sauce recipe
13. Pasta with green beans and potatoes recipe
I love summer green beans and this is a wonderful way to serve them, and a classic from the northeastern Liguria coastal region of Italy.
Focus on eggplant:
14. Pasta alla Norma
15. Eggplant Polpette Pasta
Serve these delicious eggplant polpette on top of a delicious summer pasta dish with fresh tomato sauce. Shape the polpette tiny when you use them for a pasta dish, or make them larger if you'd like to serve them on their own as a main course or side dish. They’re delicious served with yogurt. Here's the polpette recipe.
16. Penne with Cherry Tomato Sauce & Fried Eggplant recipe
Focus on ricotta:
Ricotta cheese is delicious served on summer pastas. Drain the ricotta first and bring to room temperature. Use a little bit of pasta cooking water to thin it out and make it creamy before adding to your freshly cooked pasta. Add a little grated Parmesan cheese or pecorino Romano for additional flavor. You can also mince and toss in almost any fresh herb – mint, oregano, marjoram, thyme.
Alternatively zest and juice some citrus - lemon is my favorite - and add to the ricotta before tossing it on your pasta along with some grated Parmesan cheese. I've never tried it but I'll bet lime would work beautifully too!
Last but not least some crispy pancetta or guanciale is another great addition to your creamy ricotta pasta sauce.
17. Ricotta with Parmesan
18. Ricotta with grated lemon or orange zest
19. Ricotta with pancetta
Pantry summer pasta recipes
Make your own pasta sauce with leftover ingredients you have on hand in your fridge: cooked chicken, seafood and veggies, plus jarred foods like tuna, capers, olives or anchovies.
Summer pasta recipe ingredients I always keep on hand
Pasta Cooking Water
Pro tip: Yes, pasta cooking water IS an ingredient! When you drain your pasta always make sure to set aside a cup or two for your sauce.
Serving your summer pasta
The serving dish you use is just as important as the pasta you make! I'm partial to hand-painted Italian ceramics but there are many beautiful serving dishes. Here are a few I love.
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