Easy summer pastas

Freshen up a pantry staple with seasonal ingredients
MARCIA SMART

The comfort of a warm bowl, the scent billowing from a savory sauce, and the toothsome bite of perfectly cooked pasta ― there's nothing like it. Dried pasta is simple to prepare, inexpensive, and often fortified with folic acid and other nutritious ingredients. Its shape and texture will enhance the flavors you pair it with. Made with durum wheat flour (semolina) and water, dried pasta is sturdy enough to stand up to a variety of sauces.

Our recipes take advantage of summer's bounty of juicy tomatoes, delicate zucchini, sweet peas, crisp beans, and herbs and greens. Visit a farmers' market in your area to gather the tastiest spoils of the season. Serve these fresh pasta dishes with a green salad and crusty bread, and you'll have all you need to satisfy your family or impromptu dinner guests with a bright and flavorful celebration of summer.

Pairing pastas

Different pastas go better with some sauces than others. Here's a guide.

Strands are best with moderately liquid sauces. Familiar spaghetti is a classic with tomato sauce. Bavette and tagliolini are thin, flattened strands that work well with light cream sauces or fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil. Bucatini (thick strands) can stand up to a chunkier sauce, while fine capellini (often sold as angel hair) goes with thin sauce.

Thick strips, such as fettuccine, tagliatelle, and pappardelle, are generally best for creamy sauces, such as Alfredo, or thick meat sauces like a rich duck ragu.

Cylinder shapes, either ridged or smooth, hold sauce on the inside and outside. Bake penne rigate with tomato sauce or toss it with pesto or a light but chunky sauce. Rigatoni ― wider than penne, with blunt-cut ends (as opposed to diagonally cut) ― is good with chunky sausage, artichoke, or eggplant sauces.

Specialty shapes can match a variety of sauces. Both farfalle (bow ties) and fusilli (corkscrews) are great in pasta salads; fusilli is also well matched with thin, flavorful sauces that coat the corkscrew linings. Orecchiette ("little ears") are round with a slight indentation; toss them with wilted greens or moderately thick sauces.

Recipes:

Farfalle with Arugula Pesto

Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage and Spinach

Spaghetti Carbonara with Pancetta, Leeks, and Peas

Penne with Halibut, Zucchini, and Mint