Pasta is one of the most popular dishes served in this country - and well it should be. It's cheap, it's available not only in a multitude of shapes but even colors, it's filling, it's a perfect foil to all sort of sauces , and it's also a delicious base to such varied dishes as Beef Stroganoff and Chicken Parikash. It can be stuffed, baked, and even fried - and this isn't even getting into the various Asian noodles and their preparations.
EconomicsDid I mention it was cheap? This is perhaps it's greatest characteristic - particularly in hard economic times. A single, small left-over chicken breast can become a meal for two when combined with pasta, some left-over vegetables, and a can of tomatoes. Nothing more than cheese, ham, and egg is a delicious repast. Even egg noodles and butter are filling, if a bit shy on nutrients. So here are a few pasta recipes, some perhaps familiar, others not, but all delicious.
Pasta e Fagiole means "pasta with beans." It's usually served as a soup (although I've run across recipes that didn't include a broth) and this version steals a trick from the About.com guide to Italian Food by pureeing some of the beans to thicken the broth. Serves 2.
Although easy to make and delicious, it does have the drawback of getting several dishes dirty. So when America's Test Kitchen featured a one-pan recipe I paid close attention. This recipe is not the one from the show, instead I've adapted a recipe of mine to use the television show's technique. Serves 2.
Shrimp Fra Diavolo is a classic, slightly spicy Italian dish (but feel free to kick up the spice if you wish). It's perfect for a weeknight dinner but fancy enough for company. It's also light enough to make great summer fare. Add a green salad and perhaps a bottle of Pinot Grigio and you're eating like a queen, or maybe a duchess. Serves 2.
I fell in love with Pasta Carbonara when I was in college and waiting tables at a restaurant. I got the recipe from the chef and it became a regular in my repetoire. Then on a visit to Italy several years ago I had the real thing (no cream in it, and only egg yolks). Wow! This recipe is much truer to the traditional dish. I have, however, kept the scallions from that long-ago restaurant recipe, as well as the black pepper. Serves 2.
Although easy enough, Lasagna is sort of a hassle to make because it involves several steps and dishes. Fortunately it freezes beautifully so I make it about once a year but enjoy it at least twice. Cut this dish in half and wrap half in a couple of layers of plastic wrap then seal in a zippered bag and freeze it for up to three months. Defrost in the refrigerator and heat it up in a microwave at medium power for 3 - 4 minutes. Serves 4.
One of my favorite meals is baked pasta. It's a great way to clean out the leftovers hanging around in your fridge - just cook up some pasta (ideally something like penne, macaroni or rotini) then cut up and toss in that leftover chicken leg, leftover cauliflower, and two-day old spinach along with those fresh herbs that are starting to wilt. Add some cheese and some liquid, stick it in the oven for 20 minutes, and you've got supper.Serves 2.