Summer Pasta Salads for Dinner

22 June 2022

One of the easiest summer dinners is to cook up some pasta of your choice and add fresh pesto.  If you planted basil at the start of the season, you should have a bumper crop by now.  Basil is part of the mint family and is prolific in growth.  Pesto is simple to make and store.

Mix the pasta and pesto together in a bowl rather than throwing it into the pot in which you boiled the pasta.  That pot is probably too hot and will turn the basil in the pesto black.  It will taste fine but will be rather unappetizing.

Serve with a side of crusty garlic bread, ciabatta, or focaccia.  Add a small, green salad or wedge of lettuce.

Penne with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto


  • 12 ounces penne pasta
  • 1 (8.5-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan


  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain and cool a bit. You may want to reserve about a cup of the cooking liquid to moisten the final dish if you think it appropriate.
  2. Meanwhile, blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, garlic, salt and pepper, and basil in a food processor and blend until the tomatoes are finely chopped but not soupy. Transfer the tomato mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the Parmesan.
  3. Add the pasta to the pesto and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten if necessary.

Bow-Tie Pasta With Broccoli and Potatoes


  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large bunch broccoli, florets and some chopped stems
  • 12 ounces bow-tie pasta
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced into half-moons
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 head Boston lettuce, torn
  • 1 1/2 cups grated fontina cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce), plus more for topping

Directions :

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook 10 minutes, then add the broccoli and pasta and cook as the pasta label directs.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks, salt, and pepper. Cook until soft, about 7 minutes.
  • Put the lettuce in a colander. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta, broccoli and potatoes over the lettuce to wilt it. Return the pasta and vegetables to the pot.
  • Add the leeks to the pot and stir in enough of the reserved cooking water to moisten. Stir in the cheeses and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Top with more parmesan.

Grilled Summer Vegetable Pasta


  • One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 sprig fresh basil plus 2 tablespoons chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh flat-leaf parsley plus 2 tablespoons chopped
  • 1 medium orange or red bell pepper, sides cut off from the core
  • 1 medium yellow squash, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 4 planks
  • 1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 4 planks
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • Shaved or grated Parmesan, for topping


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes (reserving the juice for another use if desired). Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes. Crush the tomatoes with your hand or use a potato masher, adding them to the saucepan as you go. Season with salt and pepper. Add the basil and parsley sprigs (reserve the chopped herbs for later) and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook at a very low simmer for about 15 minutes or until ready to serve.
  3. While the sauce cooks, heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Toss the pepper, squash, zucchini and onion with the remaining tablespoon olive oil, making sure to coat all sides. Sprinkle with salt and grill, turning once, until well-marked and crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes per side, depending on the vegetable. Transfer the onion to a large mixing bowl. Transfer the pepper, squash and zucchini to a cutting board and cut crosswise into strips. Add to the bowl with the onion and cover with foil.
  4. Cook the penne in the boiling water according to package directions. Drain and add to the bowl with the vegetables. Remove the herb sprigs from the sauce and stir in half of the chopped herbs. Add to the bowl and toss to coat.
  5. Serve the pasta in bowls topped with the remaining chopped herbs and Parmesan.
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