Let’s be real. Sometimes “routine” and “summer” don’t exactly go hand-in-hand. For me at least, I can spend one day tackling an entire to-do list and the next doing pretty much nothing. Waking up after 9… maybe 10? Yes, please. Lunch at 2? Not a problem. And one of my favorite ways to enjoy a carefree day like this is with a bowl of pasta that satisfies every warm-weather craving. These light summer pasta recipes are such an easy solution for lunch or dinner at home or on the go, and everyone in your family is sure to love them. It’d be hard not to.
Feature image by Michelle Nash.
As we inch closer to the (arguably) best season of the year, I’ve been consciously acknowledging more and more things I love about summer.
Whether it’s waking up a few minutes (hours) later, enjoying a meal at home with my family, or soaking up the sun during a mid-afternoon walk, summer continues to ignite joy inside me through the little things that are so easily taken for granted.
Something I’ve realized with the passage of time (which seems to keep getting faster—please tell me it’s not just me) is that when we’re not attuned to the things that make us happy, they really start to pass us by. Which is definitely not the mantra of the summer. Instead, it’s much more enjoyable when we can recognize the things that make us tick and find ways to make them more present in our lives.
But what does this have to do with pasta, you might ask? I don’t know about you, but something else that brings me joy is cooking simple foods, celebrating the flavors of the season while they’re available, and—most of all—savoring moments of relaxation, which are best served alongside a meal. These light summer pasta recipes are perfect for enjoying summer’s sweet spontaneity and bringing more joy to every day. It’s time to let loose and enjoy, which—after all—is what summer is really about.
12 Light Summer Pasta Recipes to Brighten Up Your Summer
Green Goddess Pasta Salad
Why We Love It: This
lean, green, fighting machine pasta is vegan, full of veggies, and totally delicious. It’s the easiest way to get your daily dose of greens while enjoying a flavorful lunch or dinner that you’ll walk away from feeling refreshed. Sign me up.
Hero Ingredient: I’d be lying if I told you the green goddess dressing wasn’t the star of the show here, but I have to give props to the avocado. Creamy and undeniably swoon-worthy.
Get the recipe for Green Goddess Pasta Salad.
Creamy Lemon Pasta
Why We Love It: Creamy may not be at the top of your summer food vocabulary, but this pasta defies the rules and brings a fresh approach to indulgence. Yes, butter and cream are the foundation of its sauce (that’s seriously good enough to drink), but the addition of lemon lightens things up and makes it suitable for summer.
Hero Ingredient: A heavy hand is key when it comes to the herbs and red pepper flakes.
Get the recipe for Creamy Lemon Pasta.
Creamy Vegan Pasta With Tomatoes and Basil
Why We Love It: This recipe continues to find its way into my rotation and I’m amazed by its flavor each time I make it. That walnut sauce is to-die-for good, the just-burst tomatoes are unparalleled, and the whole dish comes together in about 15 minutes. Too good to be true? Make it for yourself and find out.
Hero Ingredient: Again, pile on those garnishes. It’s the lemon zest, basil, and red chili flakes that really make this pasta shine.
Get the recipe for Creamy Vegan Pasta With Tomatoes and Basil.
Rigatoni With Brussels Sprouts & Kale Pesto
Why We Love It: Packing in the greens, this kale pesto, Brussels sprout-studded pasta is loaded with flavor and good-for-you ingredients. Think walnuts, olives, and lots of veggies. All coming together to deliver one heavenly-tasting pasta.
Hero Ingredient: Warning: You’ll want to drizzle that silky kale pesto over everything.
Get the recipe for Rigatoni With Brussels Sprouts & Kale Pesto.
Spaghetti alla Nerano
Why We Love It: Thinly sliced, golden brown zucchini is the feature element in this dish that’s inspired by traditional Spaghetti alla Nerano. You’d never know that it only takes 15 minutes to throw together, which makes it perfect for a weeknight dinner or dinner party! And, with zucchini season creeping up, there’s no time like the present to whip up this simple but impressive dish.
Hero Ingredient: Basil, basil, and more basil.
Get the recipe for Spaghetti alla Nerano.
Spaghetti With Garlicky Shrimp, Asparagus, & Tomatoes
Why We Love It: For a more substantial, protein-oriented pasta, look no further than this garlic shrimp spaghetti. It follows the Mediterranean Diet, which we know is the healthiest diet in the world, and introduces several healthy veggies into the mix. Practically perfect for a lunch or dinner that will stick with you without making you feel too heavy.
Hero Ingredient: Those tomatoes cook down beautifully and adopt an almost jammy consistency. Yum.
Get the recipe for Spaghetti With Garlicky Shrimp, Asparagus, & Tomatoes.
One-Pot Pasta Primavera With Summer Veggies & Ricotta
Why We Love It: More veggies! Seriously, I can’t get enough of these pasta recipes that celebrate summer produce. In this case, it’s all about asparagus, broccolini (a personal favorite), peas, and cherry tomatoes. All coming together to produce a positively palatable pasta primavera.
Hero Ingredient: Ricotta brings all kinds of creaminess to the table. Or the noodle, rather. It’s like a cheesy blanket that’s light enough to constitute a summer pasta.
Get the recipe for One-Pot Pasta Primavera With Summer Veggies & Ricotta.
Lemony Pasta Carbonara With Peas & Zucchini
Why We Love It: This carbonara is a little lighter than your traditional pancetta-laden dish, which is exactly what makes it the ideal summer pasta. Replacing salty meats with peas and zucchini, this creamy vegetarian version is best enjoyed al fresco. And with a crisp white, perhaps.
Hero Ingredient: Peas, of course. It’s time these small-but-mighty superstars get the recognition they deserve.
Get the recipe for Lemony Pasta Carbonara With Peas & Zucchini.
Summer Pasta Salad
Why We Love It: Caramelized grilled veggies, meet swirly pasta. This is the type of pasta salad you’ll want to have on hand all summer, and it’s a universal crowd pleaser at barbecues. It’s also packed with protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and healthy fats. A win on all fronts.
Hero Ingredient: Kalamata olives bring a briny, salty flavor that makes everything else pop.
Get the recipe for Summer Pasta Salad.
Summer Spaghetti With Tomatoes, Burrata, & Basil
Why We Love It: Mega-creamy burrata lovingly coats each noodle to polish off a dish you’ll want for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Seriously. And if you think it sounds a little heavy for a summer evening, think again! The “sauce” on this is literally just burst tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic. The largest bowl you have, please.
Hero Ingredient: With pasta as simple as this, make sure you’re using fresh tomatoes, fragrant basil, and good-quality olive oil. The proof is in the pudding, er, pasta.
Get the recipe for Summer Spaghetti With Tomatoes, Burrata, & Basil.
One Pot Garlicky Mushroom Pasta With Sausage & Arugula
Why We Love It: I know what you’re thinking. Sausage doesn’t exactly scream “light” summer pasta. But I beg to differ, and here’s why. This recipe only uses a small amount of Italian sausage to basically mimic a sausage and mushroom pizza (yum), and the sauce is only lemon zest and juice, arugula, parmesan, and a little butter. I’m declaring it “light” because you can eat it for lunch without dragging through the rest of your day or enjoy it at dinner without feeling overly full. No further questions, please.
Hero Ingredient: I’m always pro-mushroom. They’re so nutritious and endlessly delicious.
Get the recipe for One Pot Garlicky Mushroom Pasta With Sausage & Arugula.
Summer Veggie Pasta Salad With Feta & Lemon-Tahini Dressing
Why We Love It: Too hot to properly enjoy a warm bowl of noodles? Not a problem. This summery pasta salad is laced with all kinds of veggies and herbs that are made even better by the miso tahini dressing that tops them. It’s healthy, balanced, and so easy to savor on even the hottest of summer days.
Hero Ingredient: A dose of salty feta in each bite really seals the deal here. Feel free to pick out some cubes with your fingers. I know I will.
Get the recipe for Summer Veggie Pasta Salad With Feta & Lemon-Tahini Dressing.