Summer guests arrive just in time to enjoy veggies at their best

My annual kosher-vegetarian houseguests are due to arrive shortly, and from a cook’s point of view, they couldn’t pick a better time. Summer brings a rich bounty of good things from the earth to feast upon — perfect vegetables, fragrant fruit, fresh herbs, a veritable Gan Eden (Garden of Eden) — all in abundance at my local farmers’ market.

Effortless, elegant and easy dishes can be created in a flash, allowing the cook to serve leisurely without spending a lot of time in a hot kitchen.

A fresh tomato basil sauce that requires no cooking, tossed with freshly cooked linguini, makes a lovely starter for a casual dinner. Ripe, garden-fresh tomatoes are key to its success.

Quill-shaped penne pasta mixed with just-shelled peas, a trio of herbs and nuggets of cheese makes a light yet substantial main course.

Corn seems to be growing sweeter each summer, and when combined with a rainbow of peppers, green beans and zucchini, the result is a zesty and tantalizing pasta-based soup.

And, best of all, these dishes can be made ahead to reheat just before serving.

Uncooked Tomato Sauce with Linguine | Serves 8 as an appetizer, 4 as a main course

4 lbs. ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded
2 Tbs. minced shallots
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1 Tbs. minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup imported black olives, pitted
4 Tbs. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. freshly cooked linguine or other pasta
basil leaves for garnish

Coarsely chop all ingredients except pasta and basil leaves in food processor. Taste for salt and pepper and toss with hot, freshly cooked pasta. Garnish with basil leaves.

Pasta with Fresh Peas | Serves 4

2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. minced sage leaves
2 Tbs. chopped parsley
2 Tbs. minced tarragon
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 lb. fresh peas, shelled
salt and pepper
1 lb. freshly cooked penne
3 oz. crumbled goat or feta cheese

In large skillet heat butter and oil. Cook garlic about 2 minutes. Add the herbs, cream, red pepper flakes and peas and cook about 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened slightly. Taste for salt and pepper and toss with freshly cooked pasta. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Summer Corn Minestrone | Serves 6

3 Tbs. olive oil
4 green onions, chopped
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1/2 each red, yellow and green bell pepper, sliced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
6 cups vegetable stock or water
fresh corn kernels cut from 4 ears of corn
8 oz. green beans, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise and sliced
salt and pepper
fresh coriander leaves for garnish
6 oz. freshly cooked small shell pasta

In large skillet heat oil. Cook onions and peppers until soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in cumin, coriander, oregano and tomatoes and cook another 3 minutes. Add stock and corn and bring to a boil.

Add beans and zucchini and cook another 3 minutes. Stir in pasta. Taste for salt and pepper.

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Rebecca Ets-Hokin. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].