Star-Worthy Pastas to Make at Home

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eddy Chen, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

When it comes to cooking in the Food Star Kitchen, mediocrity will never suffice. Week after week, Star finalists must turn out camera-worthy meals that are both deliciously inspired and intelligently presented. But just because mentors demand excellence on the plate doesn’t mean the rivals have to concoct complicated dishes that take hours to prepare; easy-to-make, quick-cooking offerings are also acceptable, and the finalists proved that with their preparations of classic pasta dishes during last week's episode.

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eddy Chen, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Damaris', Stacey's and Nikki's pastas were among the simplest prepared during the Mentor Challenge, so much so that you can make them easily in your home kitchen. Nikki's Fire Island Burst Tomato Pasta with Lemon Herbed Goat Cheese Balls is a family-friendly plate that puts seasonal cherry tomatoes to work. Nikki starts by sauteing the tomatoes with garlic until they're soft and sweet, then she tosses the sauce with linguini and tops it with a sprinkle of fragrant basil and mint. For an indulgent finish, she studs each plate with a few goat cheese balls, which she's rolled with bright lemon zest and fragrant basil, mint, rosemary and thyme.

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eddy Chen, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Damaris and Stacey opted for meatier offerings, the former making Linguini Bolognese with Pancetta, Beef, Tomato Sauce, Herbs and Parmesan. After cooking pancetta with onions, garlic and carrots, Damaris adds the beef, tomatoes and thyme, then cooks the mixture for a few minutes until the flavors have married. Finish the dish with a few shavings of Parmesan cheese for a salty bite.

Instead of cooking the meat in her sauce, Stacey simply tops pasta with chicken in her recipe for Chicken Saltimbocca with Brown Butter Angel Hair Pasta. She tosses pasta with fresh garlic, nutty brown butter and lemon zest before fanning atop the noodles juicy chicken wrapped with crispy prosciutto.

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