How to Make the Best-Ever Simple Summer Pasta, According to Jacques Pépin

Summer isn't necessarily prime pasta time (unless you count pasta salad), but if anyone could convince us to get some water boiling on the stove in a heatwave, it's the one and only Jacques Pépin. His simple yet elevated recipes—scrambled eggs, potato salad, chicken salad, next-level deviled eggs or his mom's quiche—always teach us something and inspire us to head to the kitchen.

When we recently ran across his version of pasta primavera, a light version with no cream sauce that he describes as a "tomato salad with pasta," we started taking notes so we could work it into our summer dinner rotation. He attributes the dish to his friend, the painter and cookbook author Ed Giobbi, a sweet backstory that only made us want to make the dish more. Here's what you need to know to make the recipe at your house.

Related: How to Make the Best-Ever Baked Salmon, According to Chef Jacques Pépin

How to Make Jacques Pépin's Light Pasta Primavera

You can easily follow along via the video above, but as always there are some smart tips that Jacques drops along the way.

• Pick your pasta. In the video, Jacques uses trumpet-shaped campanelle pasta, but he mentioned that bow tie, fusilli or penne pasta would also be good choices. This pasta is probably best with a short cut pasta but if spaghetti is all you have in the cabinet, we bet that would work too.

Cook it as you like it. We hope you're sitting down because Jacques has some thoughts on cooking a box of pasta. "It says to cook it for 10 minutes," he says, "but I'll probably cook it longer. I don't like my pasta too al dente." It's another one of the reasons we love Jacques. He cooks things as he likes them and encourages home cooks to do the same. No matter how you cook your pasta, though, be sure to scoop out some pasta cooking water for the sauce.

Take some shortcuts. The next step of the recipe happens in the microwave, which is great for speed and also great for not heating up your kitchen in the summer. Thanks, Jacques! He mixes chopped zucchini, tomato, onion, jalapeño, garlic, olives and chives, plus some corn kernels in a large bowl then seasons them with salt. He stirs in some grated Parm and drizzles some olive oil on top, then mixes it again. The veggie mixture goes into the mixture in the microwave until everything is just warmed through, which should take 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your microwave.

Use what you have. Jacques uses a specific combo of veggies but says that you can use what you have around. No chives? Basil would be great. Don't like the heat? Skip the jalapeño.

Put it all together. Once the veggies are cooked, all that's left to do is add the drained pasta to the bowl and toss everything together. If the pasta seems dry, splash in some of the reserved cooking water and sprinkle in some more cheese, if you'd like (we're definitely adding more cheese, FWIW).

Taste—and adjust. This might seem obvious, but so many home cooks don't taste their food or at least don't taste it enough. Once the pasta and veggies are together, give it a taste. What does it need? Salt? Cheese? More liquid? A little bit of olive oil? Tasting before serving gives you a chance to fine-tune your dish so it can be just as you like it before you serve it up.

Up next: The Secret Ingredient for Making Jarred Pasta Sauce Taste Like It Came From an Italian Restaurant