Rush Hour

When the holidays are in full swing, the last thing you want to think about is how to get a healthy dinner on the table when you need to go shopping, make cookies, wrap presents and attend a cocktail party. So let us do the thinking for you this month!

This month's recipe is all about getting a hot meal on the table in minutes. Put your water on to boil and start putting together the sauce. By the time the pasta is being drained, the sauce will be ready to add to the empty pasta pot and the hot pasta can be added to the top and tossed until perfectly coated. Sprinkle a little fresh cheese over each serving as it's put in a bowl, and you've got dinner done!

If you want to take it one step further, toss together a green salad, pull apart some crusty bread and pour a glass of chilled wine. Even then, you can have this meal on the table in less than a half hour. And, if you happen to have help in the kitchen, you'll be sitting down to dinner even sooner! Now that's having a Santa's helper!!!

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .

20-Minute Pasta

  • 1/4 pound of fresh linguini or fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 pound of very thinly sliced smoked salmon, julienned in half inch strips
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons vodka
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chiffonade of fresh basil leaves
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish
  • Sprig fresh basil, for garnish

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until just al dente, fresh pasta needs only a couple of minutes. Drain in a colander and return to the saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, salt, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the onions are soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, until thick, about 2 minutes. Add the vodka and cook until the sauce reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the cream and cook until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Stir in the basil and remove from the heat.

Toss the sauce with the pasta and smoked salmon to coat evenly and transfer to a pasta bowl for serving. Top with cheese and sprig of basil and serve immediately with a bowl of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes