The beauty of pasta is that, like a pizza crust or a slice of bread, it’s a culinary blank canvas just waiting to be dressed up with your choice of flavors. The usual standbys, like marinara and Alfredo sauces, may be go-to picks for topping noodles, but there’s nearly no limit to the ingredients you can use to create a sauce all your own.
A filling, family-friendly weeknight dinner that’s not only quick to make but also healthy: Sound too good to be true? Not anymore, thanks to this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week. Ready to eat in less than 40 minutes, this easy pasta brings together sweet roasted peppers and tangy feta cheese to create a rich, creamy sauce with — wait for it — no cream in sight, making it a surprisingly light supper. By using whole-wheat noodles in place of the traditional variety, you can boost the nutritional value of the meal even more while satisfying your carb craving.
For more made-over recipe ideas, check out Food Network’s Let’s Get Healthy board on Pinterest.
Get the Recipe: Fettuccine with Creamy Red Pepper-Feta Sauce
Once a month Bev Weidner, of Bev Cooks fame and the mom of adorable twin littles, stops by to share an easy, one-two approach to dinner to keep everyone happy: Start by making one classic recipe for the kids in the house, then dress up that same dish with bold flavors for the adults.
Valentine’s Day at home can be romantic for you and your special someone, even when the kids are there too. If you’re staying inside the cozy confines of your abode this Valentine’s Day, I’ve got a crazy-simple meal that will satisfy errrrbody. Even those under the age of 5 will approve.
1. It involves pasta. Hello, isn’t “pasta” the synonym of “Valentine’s Day”? I think it is.
The hearts, the roses, the chocolate candy … It’s tough to escape the culture of Valentine’s Day once February 1 rolls around. If, for whatever reason, you’re not embracing all things red and pink these days — and instead running away from them — this Valentine’s Day dinner is for you.
It takes just 15 minutes and five everyday ingredients to make Geoffrey Zakarian’s Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, aka spaghetti with garlic and olive oil. This fan-favorite recipe gets a boost of welcome heat from a generous pinch of red pepper flakes, while the sauce comes together in a quick saute; just use a few splashes of pasta water to create a silky sauce out of the garlic slices and oil. Go ahead and slurp up each and every noodle and revel in that garlicky flavor.
One of the many lessons I learned about food while living in Italy was simple: Pasta night does not have to mean spaghetti with red sauce. Think quick pan sauces with bacon or lemon juice, or cheesy baked pasta casseroles instead. These are nine simple, delicious ways to branch out in the world of pasta.
Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo (pictured above)
25 minutes and a handful of ingredients — that’s all it takes to put together this creamy, dreamy pasta.
Want a twist on your basic spaghetti and red sauce? Try a light and airy version from Giada De Laurentiis, dripping in olive oil and fresh lemon juice and dusted with cheese.
Sometimes recipes billed as one-pot meals can mislead you. With most pasta dishes, for instance, sure, you can make the sauce from start to finish in one pot and then stir in the cooked pasta, but you’ve still got to boil the pasta somewhere, and that somewhere is another pot that needs to be cleaned. Then you need to strain the pasta – does a colander count as a third pot? Sigh.
Thus we bring you the true one-pot pasta dinner. This revolutionary method of pasta preparation allows you to skip the separate boiling and throw the dry noodles right into a pot with the other ingredients. As it cooks, the pasta’s starch helps the sauce thicken simultaneously. Food Network Kitchen created a version with fresh tomato sauce and a spin on classic mac and cheese, both with magical results. Try one for yourself tonight and you may never bother with two-pot pasta again. Read more
Amp up the comfort factor of your go-to pasta suppers by doing more than boiling water and tossing the finished product in sauce. These colder-weather months call for baked pasta recipes — and lots of ‘em — to get you through the winter. Pile your next pasta dish into a casserole dish, top it off with cheese and let it all come to bubbling, crispy-on-top heights in the oven. These five stick-to-your-ribs baked pasta dinners prove that the final baking step takes your pasta favorites over the edge.
It’s no surprise that Baked Ziti is one of the first baked pasta dishes to come to mind. Loaded up with meat (this time, ground beef and sausage), tomato sauce and a three-cheese combo (Parmesan, ricotta and mozzarella), Ree Drummond’s cheesy and kid-friendly casserole has everything you’d want, all in one dish.
Fettuccine Alfredo is a nostalgic comfort food for me. When I was a young child, my absolute favorite meal was macaroni and cheese from the blue box (if my parents tried to pull a fast one and buy the store-brand red box, apparently I knew immediately by taste). Then, at some point in early elementary school, I tried Alfredo in a red-sauce Italian joint and was hooked. It was a sophisticated step up from my beloved mac and cheese, and I would order it whenever possible. A highlight of a family trip to Disney World was a visit to the “original” Alfredo’s restaurant (R.I.P.) in Epcot to eat the signature dish.
This cream-sauced Italian-American pasta dish still hits the spot when winter comfort-food cravings kick in. Here are five Alfredo recipes to try, including Giada De Laurentiis’ classic, Food Network Kitchen’s hearty chicken variation and even lightened-up versions that still deliver the right creamy-cheesy notes (one’s even vegan!). Read more
While basil often claims the starring role in traditional pesto recipes, this vibrant green sauce can surely be made with just about any other green, which means that even when fragrant basil is out of season, like it is now, post-steamy days of summer, you can enjoy this quick-fix favorite. Food Network Kitchen’s recipe for Kale and Pistachio Pesto Spaghetti not only calls for kale as the leafy green, but it also puts pistachio nuts to work in place of the classic pine nuts.
“Kale adds a rich earthy note and brilliant green color to this hearty pesto,” the chefs in Food Network Kitchen said, and because this top-rated recipe comes together in only 35 minutes, it’s a go-to pick for those nights when you’re strapped for time. To boost the healthy factor here, Food Network Kitchen chefs opt for whole-wheat spaghetti, but they don’t compromise on flavor: Bold garlic and nutty Parmesan cheese round out the flavor of the sauce. According to the chefs, “This makes about 1 to 1 1/2 cups pesto, which would also be good on fish, chicken, pork or steak,” so keep this recipe in your back pocket even when you’re cooking for Meatless Monday.
While traditional Bolognese sauces are packed with meat — often a three-way mix of ground beef, veal and pork — Giada De Laurentiis proves that veggies can indeed steal the spotlight in her top-rated recipe for Rigatoni with Vegetable Bolognese (pictured above).
Featuring a flavor-packed base of onion, carrots and bell pepper, Giada’s herb-laced sauce boasts a key ingredient to bulk it up in place of the meat: assorted mushrooms. “They’re very hearty and substantial,” Giada explains of the mushrooms. Just a splash of red wine adds another layer of complexity to the sauce, while a dollop of mascarpone cheese offers creaminess and a subtle tang. Giada recommends you save a bit of the pasta water when draining the noodles, as you may need it later to loosen up the sauce. Just before serving, toss the pasta with nutty Parmesan cheese to round out the flavor.