Put heavy cooking aside for a quick, light summer meal

Late summer brings an abundance of good things to feast upon and wonderful opportunities to feed my vegetarian and/or kosher guests. Beautiful vegetables, fresh herbs from the garden — these are summer’s best.

What better way to showcase these gifts of the season than to combine them with different shapes of pasta for light, colorful and tasty warm-weather fare. 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. The key is simple preparations that rely on the natural goodness of the ingredients.

A fresh tomato basil sauce that requires no cooking, tossed with freshly cooked linguini makes a lovely starter for a casual dinner. (I sometimes add slivers of leftover salmon or halibut for a heartier main dish). Ripe, garden fresh tomatoes are key to its success.

The scent of fresh basil resonates heartily in a Ligurian pasta, green bean and potato dish that is almost a summer vegetable garden in a bowl.

These sauces can be made ahead to reheat just before serving. Try using a variety of pasta shapes as interesting partners for these savory summertime sauces.

Uncooked Tomato Sauce | Serves 8 as an appetizer or 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
6 anchovy fillets
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound freshly cooked pasta
basil leaves for garnish
Coarsely chop all ingredients except pasta and basil leaves in food processor. Add salt and pepper for taste and toss with hot, freshly cooked pasta. Garnish with basil leaves.

Pasta with Pesto, Green Beans and Potatoes | Serves 4

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves (about 2 bunches)
1?2 cup olive oil (preferably extra virgin)
6 Tbs. freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 1 ounce)
6 Tbs. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)
1?4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 1?2 tsp. minced garlic
2 medium russet potatoes (about 3?4 pound), peeled, cut into 1?2-inch cubes and cooked
6 oz. green beans, trimmed, cut into 3-inch lengths and cooked
1 lb. trenette pasta or linguine, freshly cooked
Combine basil, oil, Romano and Parmesan cheeses, toasted pine nuts and minced garlic in processor. Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to large bowl. Add green beans to same pot and cook until crisp and tender, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to bowl with potatoes. Cook pasta in same pot until tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Transfer pasta to bowl with potatoes and green beans.
Whisk reserved 1/2 cup cooking liquid into pesto. Add pesto to pasta mixture and toss thoroughly to coat. Transfer pasta to large platter. Serve, passing additional Pecorino Romano separately.

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].