When All Else Fails, Make Pasta

Easy to prepare, inexpensive and a staple in most people's pantries, pasta won't let you down come dinnertime.

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Dried pasta in jars on a shelf


Dried pasta in jars on a shelf

Photo by: Sumners Graphics, Inc.

Sumners Graphics, Inc.

Consider making that phrase — "when all else fails, make pasta" — your new life mantra. Easy to prepare, inexpensive and a staple in most people's pantries, pasta is the ultimate oh-man-I-need-dinner-on-the-table-like-right-now meal, and it's equally adored by kids and adults alike. Perhaps best of all, some of the most-classic sauces require only two or three ingredients, and many don't even need to be cooked — only warmed with the heat of the pasta — so dinner can be on the table in as little time as it takes to boil a pot of water. Read on below for six pasta staples you'll want to make again and again.

Make Ina Garten's Marinara Sauce once, then commit the recipe to memory, because this workhorse of a sauce will save dinnertime over and over again. Simply prepared in one pan but boasting a rich, full flavor, thanks to a splash of red wine and fresh chopped herbs, this sauce will shine atop your family's favorite noodle, ravioli or tortellini.

Tossed Angel Hair Pasta


Photo by: Tara Donne ©FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Tara Donne, FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

For those nights when you're face to face with a nearly bare refrigerator, look to Melissa d'Arabian's Tossed Angel Hair Pasta, ready to eat in only 20 minutes. It takes just two ingredients — olive oil and lemon zest — to make her simple sauce, which she mixes with angel hair, then finishes with fan-favorite Parmesan cheese.

Sicilian Cauliflower Pasta


Food Stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin

Photo by: Antonis Achilleos Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin 917 751 2855

Antonis Achilleos Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin 917 751 2855

Who says pasta night has to be casual? When time is tight and you need a dish to impress, Food Network Magazine's Sicilian Cauliflower Pasta will save the day. It's full of texture, thanks to garlicky grated cauliflower and chewy raisins, and (bonus!) it's surprisingly healthy when you use whole-wheat penne and just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Spaghetti with Sausage-Mushroom Sauce


Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Antonis Achilleos

Meaty pastas, too, are go-to timesavers, like this Spaghetti with Sausage-Mushroom Sauce from Food Network Magazine. Take your pick between sweet and spicy Italian sausage, then mix in hearty mushrooms, tomato paste and cream to create a wonderfully thick sauce that will coat each strand of pasta.

Pasta Primavera


Photo by: Kang Kim

Kang Kim

Loaded with nearly all of the contents of your crisper drawer, like fresh broccoli, carrots and bell peppers, Food Network Magazine's quick-fix Pasta Primavera comes together with a buttery garlic sauce and gooey melted cheese, so even the picky eaters at the table will eat their veggies.

Ravioli Alfredo with Peas


Food Stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop Stylist: Pamela Duncan Silver

Photo by: Andrew Purcell

Andrew Purcell

The next time you're at the store and shopping for noodles, stop by the freezer section to pick a package of ravioli. Filled with stuffings like cheese, meat, butternut squash and lobster, ravioli cook quickly like pasta does, and they serve as the same blank canvas as pasta, so you can pair them with your pick of sauces. In its recipe for Ravioli Alfredo with Peas, Food Network Magazine opts for mushroom ravioli, plus bright peas for texture and a comforting cream-based sauce made extra indulgent with plenty of Parmesan.


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