One of the best parts about summer has got to be the produce. From fresh corn to juicy tomatoes, the warmer months make for some of the most exciting cooking. One of our favorite vehicles for the season’s ripest picks? Pasta, especially the ones listed here.
These are pastas to serve still steaming—whether you’re fresh off a full day of beach lounging or at an elegant outdoor summer soirée, the kind where you’re wearing seersucker, and the napkins are linen, and the lights are twinkling.
But these are also the pastas to eat in the realer moments of July and August: when the A.C. is broken; when your face is hot with sunburn; when it’s midnight and you’re standing in front of the fridge, not wearing pants, eating through the Tupperware noodle by noodle with your fingers.
So without further ado, we present: the best pasta recipes of summer, aka the pastas we’ve waited all year to make.
1. Herb-Crushed Pasta
This wonderfully green pasta uses fresh herbs (like rosemary, thyme, parsley, and basil) two ways: first, sautéed with crushed garlic; second, added fresh into the pasta with a big pat of butter. We’ll call that a win-win.
2. Swiss Chard Stalk Pesto with Pepitas
If you think pesto is best made with basil and pine nuts, this flavorful version made with blanched Swiss chard stalks and pepitas will probably make you reconsider.
3. Penne with Herb Butter & Peas
Simple and oh-so-satisfying, this few-ingredient pasta dishes relies on your herbs of choice, penne rigate, butter, and freshly shelled English peas.
4. Creamy Pesto Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes
Summer is, above all else, tomato season. And this light and creamy (and did we mention vegan?) spaghetti makes the most of bright, flavor-packed bursts of heirloom tomatoes.
5. Spaghetti with Clams, Parsley, Garlic & Lemon (x2)
The best way to make spaghetti alle vongole: Bathe your clams in a sauce of olive oil, parsley, garlic, and red pepper flakes before tossing them in a hearty portion of spaghetti. Oh, and don’t forget a big squeeze of fresh lemon.
6. Pasta with Corn, Pea Tendrils, Prosciutto & Summer Savory
Yes, this pasta’s got crunchy corn, delicate pea tendrils, and salty prosciutto, but feel free to toss in anything else you find at the farmer’s market—that’s what we call “summer savory.”
7. Buttered Corn & Noodles
We’ll never say no to noodles swimming in butter, but this version—with corn and smoky bacon—takes the concept to the next level.
8. Spaghetti with Zucchini
An Italian favorite, this seemingly humble dish is full of clean summer flavors thanks to garlic fried until golden brown and zucchini that’s cooked until just tender.
9. Summer Squash Sauce with Pasta
Squash is a summer staple, and this recipe—which calls on kitchen staples like butter, onion, garlic, and nutmeg—is the best way to use it up.
10. Summer Pasta alla Caprese
Like a caprese salad, but make it pasta. This dish has got all of the hits—ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and balsamic—and throws in a bit of red onion and a swirly pasta shape to tie everything together.
11. Pasta with Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil & Brie
Parmesan and mozzarella might be the first cheeses that come to mind for a summer pasta, but creamy brie makes an excellent and interesting addition to what would otherwise be a straightforward recipe.
12. Michael Ruhlman’s Pasta with Tomato Water, Basil & Garlic
Tomato water—diced tomatoes seasoned with salt, then strained directly over the pan—plus butter are the secret ingredients to this Genius summer pasta.
13. Martha Stewart’s One-Pan Pasta
Martha Stewart’s famous one-pan pasta is famous for a reason. The pasta is boiled in a single pan, makes its own sauce in that same pan, and takes just about nine minutes.
14. Cold Sauce
Cold sauce might not sound appealing, but give this recipe—which uses a food processor to make a sauce of uncooked tomatoes—a chance, and we bet you’ll change your mind.
15. No-Cook Tomato Sauce
Inspired by Marcella Hazan’s buttery tomato sauce, this two-ingredient, no-cook take (though you will need to boil some pasta) comes together in a flash.
16. Paccheri with Swordfish Ragu
A nod to Sicilian flavors, this pasta dish calls on gently cooked swordfish (low and slow is the name of the game), fresh oregano, and anchovies for its addictive savoriness.
17. Spicy Eggplant Pasta
This vegetarian-friendly pasta dish gets its kick from a healthy sprinkle of red chili flakes and marvelous mix of flavors from roasted eggplant, plum tomatoes, oregano, and basil.
18. Eggplant & Tomato Pasta
One of Sicily’s most famous dishes, this creamy, almost melt-in-your-mouth pasta wouldn’t be complete without a dusting of ricotta salata cheese.
19. Spaghetti alla Sylvia Thompson
It’s no surprise that this Sunday dinner-worthy spaghetti—dressed in a rich, simmered tomato and eggplant sauce—took home a Wildcard Contest win.
20. Eggplant Baked Pasta
When you need to feed a big, hungry crowd, this low-maintenance baked eggplant pasta is definitely your best bet.
21. Linguine with Red Pesto and Corn
This clever take on pesto, which uses peeled tomatoes, almonds, celery and parsley leaves, and basil of course, is great not only tossed with pasta, but also spread on sandwiches and the like.
22. Summer Weekend Pasta
There’s no better time to make this pasta dish—a mix of bacon, garlic, and whatever vegetables are in season—than on a Saturday or Sunday evening after a long day at the beach.
23. Orecchiette with Zucchini, Tomato & Ricotta
A few dollops of creamy ricotta cheese takes this summery pasta, typical of Puglia in Italy, well over the top.
24. Pasta with Tomatoes, Corn, Squash & Ricotta
Speaking of ricotta, one community member made this pasta twice: once with store-bought ricotta and tomatoes; the second time with homemade ricotta and garden tomatoes. The result: A win on both fronts, but extra-tasty with the fresh-made ingredients.
25. Vegan Lasagna with Roasted Vegetables
Vegan lasagna doesn’t need to be any less rich or creamy than its dairy-filled counterpart, and this version—made with extra-firm tofu and nutritional yeast—proves just that.
26. Penne with Sweet Summer Vegetables, Pine Nuts & Herbs
With sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, and roasted zucchini, this pasta recipe is basically summer in a bowl. It gets bonus points for a buttery crunch with the pine nuts.
27. Pasta with Corn, Slow-Cooked Tomatoes & Garlic Confit
Feel free to make the garlic confit and the slow-cooked tomatoes in this recipe up to a few days in advance; they’ll keep well in the fridge for up to a week without losing any of their flavor.
What’s your favorite summer pasta? Tell us in the comments below!
Pasta: the perfect vessel for summer bounty. How do you do it? Give us some good ideas in the comments. We originally published this article in July 2016, but who doesn’t want a little more summer pasta love in 2019?