En español | If you've ever eaten hot cheesy lasagna or a steaming plate of spaghetti bolognese in the middle of summer, you probably needed a napkin to mop your brow more than to wipe your mouth. But good news, pasta lovers: You can enjoy freshly cooked pasta during the warm, humid months by tossing it with room-temperature ingredients.
I call this category of dishes "Hot Pasta, Cool Sauces."
Start by heating the water, which you can use for both cooking the pasta and blanching the vegetables. In Penne With Broccoli Pesto, you cook the entire head of broccoli. First you blanch the florets before transferring them to a food processor for making the pesto. Then you add the peeled-and-sliced broccoli stems to the cooking pasta for great texture and added nutrition.
The cooking water serves the same purpose for Bowties With Kale, Peas and Creamy Ricotta Sauce. Add the kale when the pasta has five minutes left to cook, so the kale is just tender with a little chew. Drop in the frozen peas for the last minute or so — long enough to take them from frosty and hard to hot and bright green.
In Spaghetti With Arugula and Tuna-Caper Sauce, there's no need to cook the arugula. This pleasantly peppery green is tender enough to wilt when tossed with the hot pasta.
While the pasta cooks, you can put together one of the simple and easy room-temperature sauces. Make hearty broccoli pesto flavorful with pine nuts (or almonds), garlic, basil and Parmesan cheese. Partner seasonal ripe tomatoes with olive oil and garlic. Add interest with capers or canned tuna. For an instant sauce, simply stir in fresh ricotta.
"Hot Pasta, Cool Sauces" are such easy and delicious dinner options, you may find yourself craving these recipes in the colder months as well.
Penne With Broccoli Pesto
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 large bunch broccoli, florets cut into bite-size pieces, stems peeled and sliced thin
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup pine nuts or sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
- Ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for grating
- 12 ounces penne
Bring 2 quarts of salted water to boil in a large soup kettle. Add broccoli florets and cook until just tender and still bright green, 4 to 5 minutes, adding garlic cloves for the last minute. Remove florets and garlic with a slotted spoon and transfer to a food processor along with nuts, oil, basil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper; process to pesto texture. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and set aside.
Meanwhile, add penne to the boiling water. Using back-of-the-box times as a guide, cook partially covered and stir frequently at first to prevent sticking, until just tender, adding broccoli stems the last 5 minutes of cooking. Set colander over a large bowl and drain penne, reserving cooking liquid. Return penne to the pot.
Add pesto to penne and toss, adding enough cooking liquid to make moist, saucy pasta. Taste to adjust seasonings, and serve, sprinkling with additional Parmesan.
Bowties With Kale, Peas and Creamy Ricotta Sauce
- 12 ounces bowtie pasta
- 1 bunch (8 to 12 ounces) kale, stemmed, washed and torn into large pieces
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 2 cups part-skim ricotta
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for passing
Bring 2 quarts of salted water to boil in a large soup kettle. Add bowtie pasta and, using back-of-the-box times as a guide, cook, partially covered and stirring frequently at first to prevent sticking, until just tender, adding kale the last 5 minutes of cooking and peas the last minute or so of cooking.
Set colander over a large bowl and drain bowtie mixture, reserving cooking liquid; return bowtie mixture to the pot, stirring in garlic and basil until fragrant. Stir in ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan and enough hot pasta cooking liquid to form a creamy sauce. Serve, sprinkling each portion with additional Parmesan.
Spaghetti With Arugula and Tuna-Caper Sauce
- 12 ounces spaghetti
- 1 pound vine-ripe tomatoes, cut into a small dice
- 2 cans (5 ounces each) white albacore tuna, drained
- 1/2 cup capers
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 quart (4 cups) packed arugula
- 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan
Bring 2 quarts of salted water to boil in a large soup kettle. Add spaghetti and, using back-of-the-box times as a guide, cook partially covered and stirring frequently at first to prevent sticking, until just tender. Drain and return to pot.
Meanwhile, toss tomatoes and a light sprinkling of salt in a medium bowl. Mix in tuna, capers, oil and garlic; let stand while spaghetti continues to cook.
Add arugula to hot pasta; toss to wilt, then add tuna-tomato mixture and toss to coat. Serve, sprinkling each with a portion of Parmesan.
Pam Anderson is a best-selling cookbook author, successful blogger and AARP's food expert.