Listen, sometimes the last thing that is going to happen is a run to the supermarket. And whether the temp is hovering over the single digits or you just can’t bring yourself to mobilize for another trip to the store, that shouldn’t prevent you from whipping up a solid meal. Next time a supermarket run just isn’t in the cards, look to pantry staples like dried pasta, canned tomatoes and more for a killer meal that’s ready on the fly. Here are five back-pocket pasta recipes that absolutely always have your back.
Successful and satisfying dinners don’t have to require many ingredients or take a lot of time to prepare. In fact, some of the most tried-and-true standbys come together in mere minutes with everyday essentials from the pantry, including crowd-pleasing pastas. Just a box of noodles and a fuss-free sauce are all it takes to pull off tonight’s family meal, and when you use Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe for Linguini with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Olives and Lemon (pictured above), you don’t even have to cook the sauce.
Ready to eat in only 17 minutes, Giada’s bold pasta stars a raw sauce of rich, chewy sun-dried tomatoes, tangy green olives and plenty of fresh basil. For easy prep, she opts to whirl these go-to fixings in the food processor alongside a squeeze of lemon juice for brightness and a heavy handful of nutty Parmesan cheese. There’s no need to cook the sauce, as the heat of the just-drained pasta will gently warm the tomato mixture as they’re combined.
I believe that everyone should know how to make a simple but delicious one-pot pasta dish. It needs to taste good, use only pantry and fridge basics, and dirty a minimal number of tools and utensils. Think boxed mac and cheese, only without the lurid orange powdered cheese.
The beauty of these one-pot pasta dishes is that that you use a minimal amount of water when cooking the pasta. You retain all the starch from the pasta in the pan, which makes for a luscious sauce, and you don’t have to wait 45 minutes for a gallon of water to come to a boil. Once the pasta is cooked, you add just a few ingredients, give it a good stir, and serve.
Currently, I’m most fond of Giada De Laurentiis’ approach to the one-pot pasta meal. Her Calabrian Chile Pasta cooks in no time and tastes amazing. You start with an inch of water in a high-sided saute pan. Once it boils, you add a pound of pasta and cook until it’s al dente (stirring regularly to determine whether it needs an additional splash of water).
Monday tends to be the busiest day of the week, so if you’re aiming to make a satisfying dish in a short amount of time, Giada De Laurentiis’ Creamy Baked Fettuccine with Asiago and Thyme might be just what you’re looking for. It takes only 35 minutes to both prepare and cook, but the short time doesn’t detract from its heartiness or taste. The Asiago and thyme components give the dish a kick of unexpected and pungent flavor that’s accentuated by the crispy texture once baked.
To prepare your meal like Giada does, bring salted water to a boil over high heat. Put in the pasta and cook until it’s tender, stirring occasionally. When you drain the pasta, save a cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Next, put the Asiago, creme fraiche, Parmesan, thyme, salt, pepper, pasta and the pasta cooking liquid in a large bowl. Lightly mix until the pasta is coated and ingredients are combined. Put the pasta in a buttered baking dish and distribute the remaining Asiago over the top. Bake until golden.
You can get dried pasta anywhere, but fresh pasta made by your own hands is something special. This week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week demystifies the process so you can make fresh pasta yourself.
For more how-tos, check out Food Network’s Let’s Learn board on Pinterest.
Get the Step-by-Step Photo Tutorial: How to Make Fresh Pasta
If there’s any recipe to have in your back pocket at all times, it’s a good pasta sauce. When you’re armed with just a few simple (and likely on-hand) ingredients, jarred sauce can be a thing of the past, and no-sweat meals can be a nightly affair. Once you have these basic sauces down, a number of pasta dinners are just a rolling boil away.
Before you twist the lid off your next jar of tomato sauce, consider making a batch yourself. While there are many ways to make a classic red sauce, Ina Garten’s five-star Marinara Sauce is about more than tomatoes. She deepens the flavor with red wine and garlic, and she creates a chunky texture with chopped onions and crushed tomatoes. It jives perfectly with any pasta shape, as a part of a baked pasta dish like lasagna or even as pizza sauce.
Aside from boiling a pot of water for noodles, pasta doesn’t necessarily require the heat of the stove or oven, as sauces can come together with little more than some stirring or blending. And during the dog days of summer like these, that’s indeed welcome news, on account of the scorching temperatures outside. While pesto may be the most-common no-cook sauce, tomato sauces, too, can be served raw, especially at this time of year when tomatoes are at their ripest — and sweetest.
Melissa d’Arabian lets seasonal tomatoes shine in her recipe for light and fresh Mediterranean Summer Pasta with Salsa Cruda (pictured above). The star of this fuss-free supper is a simple yet bold combination of seeded tomatoes, briny olives, salty capers and fragrant mint; after incorporating these go-to ingredients with bright orange zest and olive oil, let their flavors marry for a bit, then top them with just-cooked noodles. The heat of the pasta will gently cook the salsa-like tomato mixture to create a warm, satisfying plate, finished with grated Parmesan for added flavor.
Pasta is most often the easiest party staple. It’s quick to prepare and can be amped up in a number of different ways — from using diverse types of pasta like tortellini or penne to using various sauces like pesto, cream or tomato. There’s a pasta for every mood. Still, having a warm and hearty main may not be the most ideal choice for a summer soiree. Luckily, pasta is also a dish that is wonderful when cold, and can be made into a healthy, light salad.
In this Spinach Artichoke Pasta Salad from Rachael Ray, tortellini is used to create a filling meal. The recipe allows the use of all kinds of this stuffed pasta, from chicken to prosciutto, but those going meatless can buy the mushroom-, cheese-, or spinach-filled kinds. Along with the pasta comes the addition of fresh spinach and artichokes to amp up the nutritional factor while the sun-dried tomatoes work perfectly for a salty touch. With a tangy dressing made from garlic, lemon zest, vinegar, ginger, olive oil and thyme, this cold salad is the perfect light summer staple.
Pasta can be the ultimate comfort food — digging into chewy, succulent pieces of flour mixed with exciting sauces like carbonara and pesto provides a soothing experience that is akin to snuggling in with your favorite blanket. Still, the scorching summer weather can leave you wanting to ditch the heavy, piping entrees and opt for something a bit lighter and cooler. Bring on the pasta salad.
In this Mediterranean Pasta Salad (pictured above) from Food Network Kitchen, the heavy pasta sauce is replaced by a tangy dressing infused with vinegar and mustard. The salad is then topped with sun-dried tomatoes, basil, olives, oregano and a spicy pepper called pepperoncini. To add even more flavor to the dish, two types of cheeses are used to bring the flavors together — traditional creamy feta cheese and a more modern pungent Romano cheese. The combination of the two gives a hearty feel to an otherwise light and cool dish.
Hearty, quick to make and guaranteed to please the whole family, pasta’s a go-to dinner on even the busiest weeknights, and it’s a Meatless Monday mainstay on account of how simple it is to swap out the meat in most recipes. But when everyday marinara night has become a tired ritual at your table, look to dressed-up sauces to spruce up supper. Pesto, primavera and rich cream sauces are all tried-and-true picks, as are tomato-based sauces that become extra special when mixed with bold, fresh ingredients.
A top-rated fan favorite that is as easy to prepare as it is strikingly presentable, Food Network Magazine’s Pasta with Roasted Broccoli and Almond Tomato Sauce (pictured above) is made with just a handful of ingredients. The secret to this sauce lies in the food processor, which will help in making the two-part sauce: After blending roasted almonds with garlic, add olive oil and basil to create a smooth pesto-like mixture, and later whirl tomatoes in the same food processor until they, too, are pureed. Tender broccoli adds a welcome hefty bite to the sauce, which is best served with long noodles.