With another summer season at the lake on the horizon, the calendar fills with plans for gathering family and friends. Lake entertaining can be easy, even with a dock full of guests. Just think pasta meals for lunch, easy suppers, or late dinners. With shrimp or chicken made ahead and chilling in the fridge, cooking is minimal, and many hands can help cut the vegetables and shred the cheese to mix it all together. For the hostess, pasta means it’s just a short time away from guests before supper can be on the table. Pasta dishes can be doubled easily, and saved for leftovers too. Toss some greens and fix a bowl of fruit. Dinner is served!
Speaking of serving, pasta dishes are great to pass family-style; sending the bowl around the table for everyone to serve themselves makes for a relaxed vibe and flowing conversation. The hostess gets to enjoy her guests all day then concentrate on setting a welcoming table; gingham cloth napkins, some flowers from the yard in Mason jars, and a few candles lining the table brings everyone in from the water. We’re certain the following recipes will quickly become family favorites!
LEMON LINGUINE (serves 6)
Adapted from The Summer Book, a cookbook by Susan Branch
Lemon Linguine is a simple dish, but it’s light, fresh and perfect for summer. It can also help you use all those vegetables you pick up at the farmer’s market; it’s flexible enough that you can add a variety of ingredients to personalize it for your family’s tastes. For example, you might add steamed shrimp and asparagus spears, or roasted green beans and grilled chicken strips. Some of our favorite add-ins are chopped grape tomatoes, slivered fresh basil, and toasted pine nuts. No matter the season, this is my daughter’s most requested meal!
This dish is delicious warm or at room temperature, which makes it a great choice for a potluck or buffet-style meal. Also, if you are following a gluten free or low-carb diet, you can use spiralized zucchini noodles in place of linguine. Just give the “zoodles” a quick saute in a little olive oil first, to soften them and help the dressing adhere to them.
- 1 pound linguini
- ½ cup olive oil
- juice from 2 lemons
- zest from 1 lemon
- ½ cup chopped green onion
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- lots of Parmesan cheese
Cook linguine in boiling, salted water until al dente; drain well. In a large serving bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the olive oil until partially emulsified. Add cooked pasta, lemon zest, green onions and parsley and toss to coat the pasta. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Parmesan to taste.
ZESTY TOMATO & SCALLION PASTA SAUCE (serves 8-10)
This recipe makes enough sauce to toss with one pound of pasta. As a no-cook option with a flexible list of ingredients, it’s convenient and fresh—all you have to cook is the pasta! Once combined, it can be served hot or left to cool to room temperature.
- 2 ½ to 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into medium dice (I like a mix of heirlooms for color)
- 3 to 5 scallions, white and tender green parts, sliced thin
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced (it’s really about how much garlic you like) large handful of herbs, lightly chopped (I recommend basil, but you could also add mint, chives, parsley or oregano for more flavor)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (or more or less depending on your preference)
- dash of balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- optional: sliced small red chile, or dash of chile flakes
- optional: 2 to 3 very thinly sliced baby summer squash.
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese (and more to pass at the table)
- 1 cup thinly sliced zucchini strips
Drain the chopped tomatoes in a colander for 15 to 30 minutes to eliminate excess moisture. Place all ingredients except the cheese in a bowl and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes so the flavors come together. Toss with drained, hot pasta. Best served with capellini for a spin on the classic pomodoro, or a twisted gemelli or cavatappi-type pasta to make the dish visually fun. Top with thinly sliced zucchini strips for the extra veggie-summer feel. Add the cheese, toss again, and serve. Pass additional cheese at the table if desired.
CHICKEN AND ORZO SALAD (serves 10-12)
Adapted from Island Graces: Traditions from the Tables of Pawleys Island. Published by All Saint’s Church, Pawleys Island.
This one-dish meal works well for lunch, dinner, or even a picnic on the boat. If you make it a day head, make extra dressing to add just in case the pasta looks dry at serving time. We like to use orange, red and yellow peppers to add color.
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 pound orzo
- 2 pounds chicken, cooked and chopped
- 1 cup slivered almonds (toasted if you prefer)
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1 pound grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese, plus extra for garnish
Combine mustard, vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and pepper and basil in a bowl and mix well. Cook orzo, then rinse and drain. Toss orzo with half of the dressing. In a separate bowl, toss chicken, and remaining ingredients and dressing. Add chicken and vegetable mixture to pasta and mix well. Chill, covered. Garnish before serving with fresh basil and feta.