Pasta Power

To say these are trying times is more than just an understatement. It's nearly laughable. Between wondering where all the toilet paper went and attempting to work from home (if you're lucky) while getting your kids to do something beyond look at screens (again, if you're lucky), there's that ever-nagging question that somehow doesn't manage to take a break even during the throes of a global pandemic. Now that I bought all this pasta, what should I do with it?

Pasta is a great option for your pantry and your dinner table in times like these. It stores well, cooks quickly, and is highly versatile. Before you assume that you will be having spaghetti and meat sauce for days (and if that suits you, go for it!), recognize that pasta is at home in everything from soup to salad and cuisine inspired from places spanning the globe. You can literally make pasta every day for months and never have the same dish twice!

So while you might not be up for quite that challenge, here are 10 great recipes from our archives (and remember you can always search our decades of content too) that can help you use all that pasta without feeling like you're eating the same thing day after day.

Quick Sausage & Pepper Pasta

  • 16 oz. short pasta (I used mafalda pasta)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 16 oz. smoked sausage, sliced into coins
  • 1/2 c. chopped sundried tomatoes in oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Prepare the pasta of your choice according to the package instructions.

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the peppers and fry lightly for 5 minutes. Add the sausage and sundried tomatoes and continue cooking for another 10 minutes or until the peppers are soft and the sausage is heated through. Drain the pasta and toss the pasta with the contents of the skillet. Season as needed and serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Salmon Lo Mein

  • 10 oz. spaghetti or other long pasta
  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 6 oz. boneless, skinless salmon fillets
  • 1/2 c. shredded carrot
  • 1/2 c. chopped snow peas
  • 2 T. sliced garlic scapes (or green onions)
  • 1/4 c. sliced radish
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 2 T. maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. chili oil
  • 1 tsp. black sesame seeds

Prepare the pasta according to the package directions and thoroughly drain.

While the pasta cooks, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat and cook the salmon fillets by flipping once after browning on one side for about 5 minutes. Cook an additional 5-7 minutes and gently flake the fish apart into bite-sized pieces. Add the prepared vegetables to the skillet, as well as the drained pasta and the soy sauce, maple syrup, and chili oil. Toss well to combine. Serve in bowls and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Store any leftovers tightly sealed in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

  • Yields: 3-4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Favorite Pasta Fazool

  • 8 oz. whole wheat pasta shells (Other small cuts of pasta such as elbows can be used, but the texture of shells works especially well with beans, and have the particular advantage of forming little wells to hold drops of broth.)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 8-12 celery stalks, chopped (I trim and use entire bunch of celery, removing tough outer stalks. Chop as finely or coarsely as you like, depending on preferred texture. Don’t skimp on the celery, it’s an important flavoring. I don’t use leaves, but they do add extra flavor so if you don’t mind the texture of celery leaves by all means use them.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 generous pinch of dried red pepper flakes
  • 2 cans (15 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed (You can substitute chick peas, or any white beans such as navy or great northern, or a combination of any of these.)
  • 3 cups good quality vegetable stock (You can use your own favorite recipe or your own favorite store bought brand. I find that Health Valley canned vegetable broth works nicely and I always keep plenty in my pantry.)
  • ½ cup tomato sauce, or to taste (Again, use your favorite homemade or packaged)
For passing at the table (all optional):
  • Grated Parmesan Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Extra olive oil
  • Extra ground pepper
  • Extra red pepper flakes

Cook pasta according to directions until slightly under-done. Strain and set aside.

Warm the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot. When hot, add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about two minutes. Do not brown.

Add celery, salt, pepper and pepper flakes and sauté until celery is bright green, about five minutes.

Add stock, bring to boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add beans, bring back to boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Stir in pasta and tomato sauce. Remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes, uncovered.

Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

For optional additional seasonings at the table, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with a tablespoon or so of cheese and top with a twist of the pepper mill. Add red pepper flakes if you like more spice.

Trying different bean combinations is one way to vary the soup. Another excellent way is to add some chopped greens, such as spinach or escarole, at the end of the cooking process, about 5 minutes before removing from heat.

This recipe will make 6 to 8 servings, depending on how big your bowls are. Tightly sealed, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. In storage, the flavors will blend and intensify and the soup will thicken. Each time you reheat, add some water or more stock to reach desired consistency.

Bang Bang Rainbow Shrimp Pasta

  • 16 oz. short pasta - I used radiatore pasta
  • 12 oz. shrimp, deveined and peeled
  • Salt & pepper
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • 2 T. butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 4 sweet mini peppers, cored and sliced into strips
  • 6 oz. thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ c. mayonnaise
  • ⅓ c. sweet Thai chili sauce
  • 2 tsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. sriracha sauce

Prepare the pasta according to the package instructions; drain.

While the pasta is cooking, toss the shrimp with the salt, pepper, and paprika. Melt the butter in a medium nonstick skillet and sauté the garlic in the melted butter for 2 minutes. Add the seasoned shrimp after the 2 minutes and sauté until the shrimp is fully pink. Add the pepper flakes, mini pepper strips, and asparagus and saute an additional 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients (mayonnaise through sriracha sauce) and stir to fully combine.

Add the drained pasta to the contents of the skillet. Toss well to combine and serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Farfalle with Pumpkin-Sausage Sauce

  • 1 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 to 6 sprigs sage leaves, cut into chiffonade
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • 1 pound farfalle pasta, cooked al dente

Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Brown the sausage in it. Transfer the sausage to a paper towel lined plate. Return pan to the stove. Add the garlic and onion to the pan. Sauté the garlic and onion for 3 to 5 minutes or until the onions are tender.

Add the sage and wine to the pan. Reduce the wine by half, about 2 minutes. Add the stock and pumpkin and stir to combine, stirring the sauce until it comes to a bubble. Return the sausage to the pan, reduce the heat, and stir in the half & half. Season the sauce with the cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer the mixture for 5 to 10 minutes to thicken the sauce.

Cook the farfalle according to the package directions. Return the drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Pour the sausage pumpkin sauce over the pasta. Combine the sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute before serving.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Orange-Spinach Pasta Salad

  • 16 ounces short pasta — choose your favorite shape
  • ⅓ cup teriyaki sauce
  • ⅓ cup rice wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ⅓ cup sliced almonds
  • 1 15-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, drain, and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

While the pasta is boiling, prepare the dressing. In a resealable jar, combine the dressing ingredients (teriyaki sauce through extra virgin olive oil). Cover and shake to combine. Chill until ready to use.

In a large serving bowl, toss together the pasta, spinach, dried cranberries, almonds, and mandarin oranges. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the salad, toss, and serve.

  • Yields: 12-16 side dish servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Tuscan Chicken Pasta

  • 16 oz. pasta - choose your favorite variety
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into small pieces
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 c. spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 2 T. grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.

Add the chicken to the pan and season with and pepper. Cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until cooked through. Add the tomatoes and spinach and cook an additional 2-3 minutes or until heated through.

Drain the pasta, reserving ¼ cup of cooking water and return pasta to the pot it cooked in. Turn the heat on medium high and add the cream along with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until sauce has started to thicken. Add pasta water if needed to thin the sauce.

Toss the chicken and vegetable mixture in with the pasta and sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Mushroom-Brie Creamy Orzo

  • 8 oz. baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 4 c. hot vegetable stock
  • 10 oz. dried orzo pasta
  • 3 oz. mature cheddar, grated
  • 2 oz. brie, roughly chopped
  • 1 c. fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • Black pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, heat two tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat until hot and melted. Add all the mushrooms and stir well. Cook and brown for about 10 minutes until they are softened and slightly crisp at the edges. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the skillet. When hot, add the onion and garlic. Cover with a lid and reduce to a medium heat. Sweat the onion until soft, about 3 – 4 minutes.

Add the stock to the skillet and bring to the boil. Add the orzo and cook stirring occasionally until silky but still with a little bite, about 8 – 10 minutes. Before the orzo is completely cooked, add the cheeses and stir well. Add the spinach and season with pepper as needed before serving.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Balsamic-Glazed Mushroom Noodles

  • 1 lb. long cut pasta (I used thick egg noodles, but spaghetti or the like would work well)
  • 2 c. dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 T. honey
  • 2-3 T. soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • 1 large beet (steamed or roasted), sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 c. goat cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain.

While the pasta is cooking, place the dried shiitake mushrooms in a glass bowl and cover with boiling water. If necessary, cover the bowl with a plate to make sure the mushrooms are fully submerged. After you've allowed the mushrooms to steep for 6-8 minutes, drain them while reserving the liquid. Squeeze the excess liquid from the mushrooms and slice them into bite-sized pieces.

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until they just begin to caramelize on the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute or until fragrant. Remove the mushrooms and garlic from the skillet and place on a plate. To the same skillet, add the balsamic vinegar, honey, soy sauce, and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until it is sticky to touch. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the pasta and mushrooms. Toss to coat, if the sauce seems too thick, thin it with a little of the mushroom water. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve the pasta immediately, topped with beets, goat cheese, and additional red pepper flakes (if using).

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Jalapeño Popper Macaroni and Cheese

  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 jalapeños, sliced with ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated pepper jack cheese
  • 2/3 cup blue cheese crumbles, divided
  • 1 cup corn flakes, crushed

In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove it from the pan, drain on paper towels and crumble. Pour off the excess bacon drippings, keeping 2 tablespoons in the pan. Place the skillet back on the heat and sauté onion and jalapeños until soft, about 6 minutes over medium heat. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously and cook the pasta until very al dente, but not still crunchy. Drain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In the same pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the cornstarch, along with the milk, half and half, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Increase the heat to medium high and continue mixing until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cream cheese and hot sauce until melted smoothly into the sauce. Pour the cooked pasta and sautéed onions and jalapeños into the sauce. Stir to coat. Stir in the cheeses (using only half of the blue cheese crumbles). Pour the mixture into a buttered baking dish and spread out evenly. Top with the remaining blue cheese, the corn flakes and crumbled bacon. Bake 20-30 minutes until the top of the macaroni has browned. Remove from oven and serve hot.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour

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