50 Pasta Dinners

Pick a sauce and try something new for pasta night. 

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Photographs by Con Poulos

Shrimp Fra Diavolo (No. 7) 

Pasta Basics

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add 1 pound pasta and cook as the label directs, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, prepare your sauce in a large skillet.
  • Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add to the skillet and toss with the sauce, adding the reserved pasta water as needed to loosen.

1. Marinara Cook 6 sliced garlic cloves in olive oil over medium heat until golden. Add one 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (crushed by hand) and 1 cup water; season with salt and red pepper flakes. Simmer 15 minutes; stir in 1/2 cup chopped basil. Add cooked spaghetti and toss, adding up to 1/2 cup pasta water.

2. Meatball Make Pasta Marinara (No. 1), using 2 1/2 cups water. Finely chop 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, 1/2 onion and 2 garlic cloves in a food processor. Mix with 1 pound each ground beef and pork, 1 large egg, and 1 cup each breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan; form into 24 meatballs and simmer in the sauce 30 minutes. Add the pasta and toss.

3. Vodka Make Pasta Marinara (No. 1) with penne, adding 1/2 cup cream and 1/4 cup vodka with the tomatoes.

4. Arrabbiata Make Pasta Marinara (No. 1) with fusilli, cooking 4 halved dried chiles de arbol with the garlic. Discard the chiles before serving.

5. Norma Saute 1 chopped eggplant in olive oil until browned. Make Pasta Marinara (No. 1) with rigatoni, adding the eggplant with the tomatoes. Top with ricotta.

6. Peas and Pancetta Make Pasta Marinara (No. 1) with rigatoni, sauteing 4 ounces diced pancetta in the oil before adding the garlic. Add 1 cup frozen peas and 1/2 cup cream during the last 5 minutes of simmering.

7. Shrimp Fra Diavolo Make Pasta Marinara (No. 1) with bucatini, using 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Saute 1 pound peeled medium shrimp in olive oil until cooked through; add to the pasta and toss.

8. Amatriciana Saute 4 ounces diced pancetta in olive oil over medium heat until almost crisp. Add 2 sliced onions; cook until softened. Add one 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (crushed by hand) and 1 cup water; season with salt and red pepper flakes. Simmer 20 minutes; stir in 1/2 cup chopped parsley. Add cooked bucatini and toss, adding up to 1/2 cup pasta water. Stir in 3/4 cup grated Parmesan.

9. Mushroom Amatriciana Make Pasta Amatriciana (No. 8) with penne, cooking 2 minced garlic cloves and 8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms with the onions.

10. Amatriciana with Clams Make Pasta Amatriciana (No. 8), cooking 2 minced garlic cloves with the onions. Add 12 littleneck clams during the last 5 minutes of simmering, cover and cook until they open.