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Cooking

In the market

Got veggies? Here are three hearty meals that make the most of summer’s bounty.

Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

With backyard and community gardens and local farmers’ markets in overdrive, now is the time to load up pasta dishes with fresh summer vegetables and herbs. In my view, summer pastas must include tomatoes and basil, which figure in all three recipes here. Beyond adding cheese for flavor and richness, these easy dishes can be a free-for-all of your favorite veggies with combinations such as garlic, hot pepper flakes, orange, and olives or pancetta and loads of scallions. Italian cooks who feel that pasta dishes are more about the pasta than the sauce may blanch, but in these recipes I like the produce to share equal presence.

PASTA WITH A GARDEN’S WORTH OF SAUTEED VEGETABLES

Serves 6

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium zucchini, cut into ½-inch half-moons (about 4 cups), then salted for 45 minutes, drained, rinsed, and dried

2 medium onions, halved and thickly sliced (about 4½ cups)

Salt and black pepper

2 yellow or orange bell peppers, cut into ½-inch strips (about 3 cups)

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 dry pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1 pound short, stubby, or tube-shaped pasta, cooked until al dente; 1 cup cooking water set aside

1½ cups grated Parmesan, plus extra for the table

½ cup chopped fresh basil

½ cup pine nuts, toasted

In a very large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the zucchini and cook, undisturbed, about 2½ minutes. Stir and cook 1 minute longer; transfer to a bowl and set aside.

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Add 2 tablespoons oil to the skillet, return it to medium-high, and heat until shimmering. Add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt and saute until very soft, about 8 minutes. Add the bell peppers and saute until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes longer. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and the garlic, and saute 1½ minutes. Add the tomatoes and saute until barely warmed, 1½ minutes. Adjust heat to low.

Add pasta, zucchini, 1/3 cup of the cooking water, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste to the skillet and stir. Add the Parmesan, basil, pine nuts, and the remaining oil, and stir, adding water if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Transfer to a large warmed serving bowl and serve at once, passing the extra Parmesan.

TIP To give zucchini some color (and flavor), cook in a single layer and resist the temptation to stir for 2½ minutes.

Jim Scherer

TIP To give zucchini some color (and flavor), cook in a single layer and resist the temptation to stir for 2½ minutes.

ORANGE-SCENTED PASTA WITH OLIVES, TOMATOES, AND BASIL

Serves 4 to 6

Adapted from The Italian Country Table, by Lynne Rossetto Kasper.

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)

1 large onion, chopped

Salt and black pepper

1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, quartered

1 dry pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 pound short, stubby, or tube-shaped pasta, cooked until al dente; ½ cup cooking water set aside

½ pound fresh mozzarella, cut into ½-inch dice

½ cup chopped fresh basil

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In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat the 6 tablespoons of oil and saute the garlic until golden, about 8 minutes. Leaving the oil, remove garlic to a paper towel to drain. Adjust heat to medium-high, add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt, and saute until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the orange zest, oregano, red pepper flakes, and olives, and saute 40 seconds longer. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, until barely warmed, about 1½ minutes. Set aside off heat.

In a large warmed serving bowl, toss pasta, ½ cup cooking water, olive mixture, mozzarella, 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste), and black pepper to taste. Add the basil and toss. Sprinkle with the garlic chips and serve at once.

PASTA WITH PANCETTA, RICOTTA, AND FRESH HERBS

Serves 4 to 6

The recipe for this rich pasta is inspired byCucina Rustica, by Evan Kleiman and Viana La Place.

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 ounces pancetta, cut into ¼-inch dice

3 medium-large onions, cut into ¾-inch dice (about 5 cups)

Salt and black pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 dry pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

2 cups whole milk ricotta

1 cup grated Parmesan

½ cup chopped fresh basil

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced (about ¾ cup)

1 pound short, stubby, or tube-shaped pasta, cooked until al dente; 1 cup cooking water set aside

In a very large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the pancetta, adjust to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 14 minutes. Remove pancetta to a paper towel to drain, leaving the fat.

Return the skillet to medium-high, add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt, and saute until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Adjust the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring frequently, about 40 minutes longer. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and continue to cook and stir 1 minute longer. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, until barely warmed, about 1½ minutes longer. Stir in the ricotta, Parmesan, basil, parsley, and scallions, and 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper, and adjust heat to low.

Immediately add the pasta, ½ cup cooking water, the pancetta, and 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper (or to taste) to the ricotta mixture in the skillet, adding water if necessary. Transfer to a large warmed serving bowl and serve at once.

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