In Rome’s beloved version of pasta all’amatriciana, the crushed tomatoes and their juices are simmered in lard or the rendered fat of guanciale, a cured pork jowl that also garnishes the dish Beth Galton
Fast and easy dinners are always welcome in our home (we need something to balance all the fun project cooking after all). But if we can avoid sacrificing flavor or quality of ingredients along the way, that’s all the better.
It’s nothing new that pasta is a classic and respectable go-to when you’re in a time crunch or you (or your kids) just have a hankering for comfort food. It’s affordable, feeds a crowd, and can get a gourmet meal (hear us out) on the table in an instant. But strategic Italian-inspired choices like buying the best-quality dried pasta (or, if you have time, making your own), garnishing with fresh herbs or premium cheese, and starting with top-notch extra-virgin olive oil can go a long way in delivering a superlative dish.
Whether hearty and cheesy baked macaronis, vegetable-driven noodles, or simply sauced stuffed pastas, these family-friendly pasta recipes are perfect for weeknight cooking yet creative enough to save you from a dinner rut. Best of all, they’ll be ready before you can even say “pesto.”
Penne alla Vodka
Whether or not this dish of tube-shaped penne pasta lavished with a peppery, vodka-laced cream and tomato sauce was created in Italy is a matter of heated debate in some quarters; some say it was the result of aggressive marketing on the part of vodka importers. Whatever the case, it has become firmly entrenched as an Italian American classic. Get the recipe for Penne alla Vodka »
I believe it started in 1975, when I visited Prince Edward Island with a number of colleagues, including Craig Claiborne of the New York Times. To eat we had only lobster and wild boar. After a week of this, everyone said, “Can we have some pasta?” I set out to make two dishes, one with vegetables, one Alfredo style. But in the end I mixed it all together, vegetables with spaghetti and cream. Get the recipe for Spaghetti Primavera »
Pappardelle with Mixed Mushrooms, Ricotta, and Walnuts
A mix of sautéed mushrooms, toasted walnuts, ricotta, thyme, honey, and pappardelle, this pasta dish needs only a green salad on the side. Get the recipe for Pappardelle with Mixed Mushrooms, Ricotta, and Walnuts »
Pesto and Trofie Pasta
In Genoa, pesto is most commonly tossed with trofie, a short, twisted pasta, or trennete, a thin, flat noodle. Never heat pesto on its own—the pasta will warm it—and add it sparingly (around ½ cup pesto per pound of pasta). Get the recipe for Pesto and Trofie Pasta »
This recipe for summer bolognese has the classic comfort of bolognese, but without the heaviness of a red sauce, instead embracing the summer’s bounty of gorgeous tomatoes and fresh basil.