The weekly shopping trips to my neighborhood farmers’ market have become a waiting game of late. Because of unseasonably cool weather in Northern California this spring, my favorite summer crops — including heirloom tomatoes and corn on the cob — have been slow to ripen.
At last, my patience has been rewarded. Last weekend, those first ears of sweet corn finally appeared, along with a few baskets of cherry tomatoes. I knew the big vine-ripened heirlooms would soon follow.
And what will I do with this long-awaited bounty? Make pasta!
I turned to the Williams-Sonoma website and found plenty of inspiration. Here are our top five summer pastas, as rated by our readers. These recipes are truly farm to table, showcasing the season’s bumper crop to best advantage.
|Baked Penne with Corn, Zucchini and Basiltops the list. I’m a big fan of this recipe, as are legions of other cooks. It combines corn, zucchini and tomatoes with fresh herbs and two kinds of cheeses, capturing the essence of summer in one luscious dish.
Readers say: “This recipe is absolutely the best, most delicious pasta/veg casserole I have EVER tasted.” – Becki, McKinney, TX
|Capellini with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil: This summer dish is so simple, it hardly requires a recipe: Just chop juicy tomatoes and stir in extra-virgin olive oil and basil. Then toss hot pasta with the uncooked sauce and dinner is served. Super-easy and immensely satisfying — what could be better for busy weeknights?
Readers say: “What a great recipe when you have ripe tomatoes. Yum! My children even gobble this up.” — TwinCitiesCook, Eagan, MN
|Pasta with Green Beans and Potatoes: No list of summer pastas would be complete without a recipe for basil pesto — and it’s a snap to whip up in a food processor. Intensely aromatic, with a hint of anise flavor, basil epitomizes summer itself. Here, in the tradition of Liguria, we pair pesto with green beans, potatoes and pasta. Yes, it’s a starch upon a starch, but who’s to question the Italians when it comes to food? Trust me, it’s a winning combination.
Readers say: “Great summer dish! Make this in the summer when you can get fresh green beans and basil.” — stitcher76, Port Matilida, PA
|Pasta Salad with Grilled Tuna and Roasted Tomatoes: This make-ahead dish is served at room temperature, so it’s ideal for toting to picnics and potlucks. First, roast some tomatoes in the oven — they’ll emerge richly caramelized and intensely flavorful. Then cook pasta shells and grill tuna fillets over a hot fire. Let everything cool and toss together with a basil dressing and fresh mozzarella cheese. You’ll have a hit on your hands.
Readers say: “I’m impressed as to how crisp, simple and good this recipe really is. It is just excellent for informal get-togethers with friends on a summer evening.” — JerseyJohn, Perth Amboy, NJ
|Zucchini Lasagna: What do you do when your garden overflows with zucchini? Lasagna to the rescue! This meatless main course layers noodles with sautéed zucchini, chopped tomatoes and three kinds of cheeses. Add a tossed green salad and a loaf of crusty bread, and you’ve created a crowd-pleasing meal.
Readers say: “I made this recipe several times with my home-grown zucchini and tomatoes and it is absolutely delicious.” — BellV, San Jose, CA
What’s your favorite summer pasta? Let us know in the comment section below.
About the author: Kris was raised in Kansas on JELL-O and frozen fish sticks. She rebelled at a young age by learning to cook, whipping up a batch of fluffy scrambled eggs that impressed her family. These days, she’s an avid home cook who loves to host dinner parties for friends. Her favorite techniques are grilling in the summer and braising in the winter. Now she’s landed her dream job — editing all of the recipes for Williams-Sonoma.