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Simple recipes pairing the season’s fresh tomatoes with pasta

Easy meals get their flavor from late summer’s bounty and some classic additions.

BLT Pasta (center) and  Pasta With Fresh Tomatoes,  Zucchini, Lemon, and Mint (right).
Photographs by anthony tieuli; food styling by Sheila jarnes/Ennis inc.
BLT Pasta (center) and pasta with fresh tomatoes, zucchini, lemon, and mint (right).

Fast, simple, and satisfying . . . pasta sauced with raw, local tomatoes, olive oil, herbs, and a complementary ingredient or two checks all the right boxes for an easy, delicious late-summer dinner. With these recipes, I branch out a bit from the classic, caprese-based basil and mozzarella I grew up with, employing zucchini, meaty marinated anchovies, and flavors borrowed from a BLT.

Because the ingredients are few, they should be top-notch for the pastas to shine. That means ripe, local tomatoes — exactly the ones that are abundant in the farmers markets now — local garlic, and the best extra-virgin olive oil you can find. Seeding and chopping the tomatoes an hour or two ahead of time is fine, but don’t salt them until you’re cooking the pasta; the salt will draw too much liquid out of the tomatoes, making the dish soupy.

For pasta, I reach for fusilli or rotini or any short pasta with a ton of surface area to soak up the flavors.

PASTA WITH FRESH TOMATOES, ZUCCHINI, LEMON, AND MINT

Makes about 10 cups

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If you happen upon yellow zucchini, they’re very pretty in this dish. Whichever color, choose small, tender specimens. A mandoline or V-slicer is very handy for slicing them thinly and consistently. I use a salad spinner to dry the zucchini after rinsing, and, in fact, you can salt and drain the zucchini in the salad spinner basket set into its bowl. For the best texture, serve this dish right after mixing it.

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1         pound zucchini (3 or 4 small), trimmed and very thinly sliced (about 1/16 inch; about 5 cups total)

Salt and pepper

1½    pounds ripe local tomatoes, cored, seeded, and roughly chopped (about 4 cups)

¼      cup finely minced shallot (1 medium)

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2        teaspoons finely grated zest and 1½ tablespoons juice from 1 large lemon

¼      cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1         package (12 to 16 ounces) short, stubby pasta

2/3       cup strips of Parmesan, shaved with a vegetable peeler

½      cup chopped fresh mint

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In a salad spinner basket set into its bowl (or colander set over a bowl), toss the zucchini with 1 teaspoon salt and set aside to drain, about 1 hour (it will exude about 2 tablespoons of liquid). Rinse the zucchini thoroughly and dry very well using the salad spinner or paper towels, trying not to compress the slices too much. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, shallot, lemon zest and juice, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste, and ¼ cup oil to blend and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain pasta and immediately dump into bowl with tomato mixture. Add the prepared zucchini and toss to distribute and cool the pasta slightly. Add most of the Parmesan and mint and toss to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and mint, and serve, drizzling each serving with some oil.

PASTA WITH FRESH TOMATOES, WHITE ANCHOVIES, AND CAPERS

Makes about 10 cups

Both capers and anchovies are distinctly piquant, so sweet heirloom tomatoes make an especially appealing pairing here.

2½   pounds ripe local tomatoes, cored, seeded, and roughly chopped (about 6 cups)

1         tablespoon pressed or grated garlic (about 5 medium cloves)

Salt and pepper

1/3        cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1         package (12 to 16 ounces) short, stubby pasta

3        tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped

2/3       cup chopped fresh parsley

40    marinated white anchovy fillets (about 4 ounces), halved crosswise (about ½ cup)

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, garlic, 1¼ teaspoons salt, pepper to taste, and ‚ cup oil to blend and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain pasta and immediately dump into bowl with tomato mixture, and toss to distribute and cool the pasta slightly. Add the capers and parsley and toss to combine. Add most of the anchovies and toss to combine. Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper if necessary, and serve, topping each serving with 2 or 3 pieces of remaining anchovy and drizzling with some oil.

TIP: MARINATED WHITE ANCHOVIES

These meaty anchovies, also called boquerones, are popular in Spain. They’re not packed in oil or salt like their tinned brethren, but rather marinated in a mixture containing vinegar. This makes their flavor piquant and their flesh white.
Anthony Tieuli
These meaty anchovies, also called boquerones, are popular in Spain. They’re not packed in oil or salt like their tinned brethren, but rather marinated in a mixture containing vinegar. This makes their flavor piquant and their flesh white.

BLT PASTA

Makes about 10 cups

This recipe is adapted from Foodwishes.com.

1         pound bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

2½   pounds ripe local tomatoes, cored, seeded, and roughly chopped (about 6 cups)

1         tablespoon pressed or grated garlic (about 5 medium cloves)

Salt and pepper

1/3        cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1         package (12 to 16 ounces) short, stubby pasta

5        cups, loosely packed, arugula, roughly chopped (about 3 ounces)

¾      cup finely grated Parmesan, plus extra to pass at the table

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, fry the bacon, stirring occasionally, until rendered and beginning to turn crisp, 18 to 22 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to paper towels to drain, and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, garlic, 1½ teaspoons salt, pepper to taste, and ‚ cup oil to blend and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain pasta and immediately dump into bowl with tomato mixture. Toss to distribute the tomatoes and cool the pasta slightly. Add the bacon and arugula and toss to combine. Add the Parmesan and toss to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary and serve, drizzling each portion with oil and passing extra Parmesan.

Adam Ried appears regularly on “America’s Test Kitchen.” Send comments to cooking@globe.com.