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8 Fresh Twists on Spaghetti Dinner

Who doesn’t love a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs? Who doesn’t get bored with spaghetti and meatballs every once in awhile? Here are eight different recipes to punch up your pasta game.

 

8 Fettuccine Alfredo

 

Fettuccine is a thick, ribbon-like noodle, so it pairs well with thicker, creamier, meatier sauces. Here’s an easy fettuccine alfredo dish from Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman.

Ingredients:

1 pound of fettuccine noodles1 stick of butter1 cup of heavy cream2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheesesalt and pepper

Directions:

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.

2. In a saucepan over low heat, warm the butter and cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Place half of the Parmesan cheese into a large serving bowl. Pour the warm butter/cream mixture over the top and let it sit together.

4. Drain the pasta, but save some of the pasta water. Pour the pasta into the bowl with the butter/cream/cheese and toss it together.5. Add the other half of Parmesan cheese. Toss to combine it all. Thin with reserved pasta water if necessary.

You can easily grill some chicken to slice and serve on top, too.

7 Penne Alla Vodka

 

Penne is a tube-shaped noodle with angled ends. These are great for thick sauces or to use in baked pasta dishes.

Supposedly, penne alla vodka was created when the chef needed to thin his tomato sauce and only had a flask of vodka on hand. The origins are questionable, but this dish is delicious.

 

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons butter3 – 4 cloves garlic, chopped finely1 cup thinly sliced prosciutto1(28 ounces) can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped1⁄2 cup heavy cream1⁄4 cup vodka (only a kind you would drink)salt and pepper1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes1 lb. penne pasta3⁄4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:

1. In a pot large enough to hold all of the pasta and sauce, melt the butter.

2. Add the garlic and cook until golden brown.

3. Stir in the prosciutto and cook for a minute or two.

4. Add the tomatoes, crushed pepper, salt, and pepper.

5. Simmer for about five minutes.

6. Stir in the cream and cook for two minutes, stirring often.

7. Add the vodka and cook until the alcohol burns off and the sauce no longer smells strongly of vodka. (About 3-5 minutes.)

8. Cook the pasta to al dente.

9. Add pasta to the pot with the sauce and mix it until the pasta is well coated.

10. Toss with the cheese and serve immediately.

6 Bucatini all’Amatriciana

 

 

 

Bucatini is straw-shaped pasta, like spaghetti, but is thicker and hollow in the center.

According to Mario Batali, this dish is named for the Italian town of Amatrice, which is considered by many Italians to be the birthplace of the best cooks in the country.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil12 ounces thinly sliced guanciale pancetta or good bacon1 red onion, cut lengthwise in half and then into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons3 cloves garlic, sliced1 1/2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes2 cups basic tomato Sauce1 pound bucatiniFreshly grated pecorino Romano

Directions:

1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt.

2. Meanwhile, in a 10 or 12-inch sauté pan, combine the olive oil, guanciale, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Set over low heat and cook until the onion is softened and the guanciale has rendered much of its fat, about 12 minutes.

3. Drain all but 1/4 cup of the fat out of the pan (and set aside to cook you eggs for tomorrow's breakfast). Add the tomato sauce, turn up the heat, and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and allow to bubble for 6 to 7 minutes.

4. While the sauce simmers, cook the bucatini in the boiling water for about a minute less than the package directions, until still very firm; drain.

5. Add the pasta to the simmering sauce and toss for about 1 minute to coat. Divide the pasta among four heated bowls and serve immediately, topped with freshly grated pecorino.

5 Rigatoni with Sautéed Eggplant and Tomatoes

 

Rigatoni is a thick and wide tubular pasta with ridges on the outside, making thick and creamy sauces cling to the noodle. Pasta may be filling, but this hearty rigatoni dish is fairly low in calories—only 446 calories a serving!

Ingredients:

12 ounces (5 1/2 cups) rigatoni3 tablespoons olive oil1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch pieceskosher salt and pepper3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced1-pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved¼ cup fresh mint, torn½ cup grated ricotta salata or Parmesan

Directions:

1. Cook the rigatoni according to the package directions. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

3. Add the eggplant, season with salt and pepper, and cook stirring occasionally until golden brown, about 8 minutes.

4. Add the garlic and tomatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes.

5. Add the drained rigatoni and mint and toss. Divide among bowls and top with the ricotta salata or Parmesan.

4 Baked Ziti and Summer Vegetables

Ziti is medium-sized tubular shaped pasta. It is great for baked dishes. This colorful dish can easily be altered to include your favorite veggies or whatever you have on hand.

Ingredients:

4 ounces uncooked ziti1 tablespoon olive oil2 cups chopped yellow squash1 cup chopped zucchini1/2 cup chopped onion2 cups chopped tomato2 garlic cloves, minced1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano3/4 teaspoon salt, divided1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper1/4 cup (2 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese1 large egg, lightly beatencooking spray

Directions:

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting any salt and fat. Drain.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to the pan. Add squash, zucchini, and onion. Sauté for 5 minutes.

4. Add tomato and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes.

5. Remove from heat and stir in pasta, ½ cup mozzarella, herbs, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper.

6. Combine ricotta, remaining salt, and egg. Stir into pasta mixture.

7. Spray an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon in pasta mixture. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.

8. Bake for 15 minutes until browned and bubbly.

3 Shells with Ham and Peas

 

Shells are...well...shell-shaped, obviously. This salty Southern dish is a different take on shells and cheese.

Ingredients:

1 pound small pasta shells2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil5 garlic cloves, thinly slicedOne 10-ounce package frozen peas¼ pound thinly sliced country ham or prosciutto, coarsely chopped

1 ¼ cups heavy cream1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese1/3 cup freshly chopped dillsalt and pepper

Directions:

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta shells until al dente. Drain the shells, return them to the pot, and toss with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil to prevent sticking.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until golden, about 4 minutes.

3. Add the peas and ham, and cook until the peas are hot and the ham is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the cream and stock and simmer over moderate heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

5. Stir the cream sauce into the shells. Add the Parmesan and dill, and season with salt and pepper. Serve in bowls.

2 Parmesan Rotini Skillet

Rotini pasta is spiral shaped and is great for baked dishes and pasta salads because sauces or dressings will cling to the noodle.

This one pan recipe combines Italian sausage, tomatoes, and rotini pasta with ricotta and parmesan cheese.

Ingredients:

1 pound Italian pork sausage links, casings removed1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce1 can (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes, undrained2 cups water½ teaspoon dried basil leaves½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves3 cups rotini pasta, uncooked1 cup ricotta cheese½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided½ teaspoon parsley flakes

Directions:

1. Crumble sausage into large deep skillet. Cook 8-10 minutes or until evenly browned, stirring frequently. Drain sausage and return to skillet.

2. Stir in tomato sauce, undrained tomatoes, water, basil, and oregano. Bring to a boil.

3. Add the pasta and stir. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat 18-20 minutes or until the pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.

4. Mix together ricotta, ¼ cup Parmesan, and parsley. Spoon over pasta mixture, and then swirl gently with a spoon.

Sprinkle remaining Parmesan on top.

1 Shrimp Scampi with Angel Hair Pasta

Angel hair is long, thin, fine straw-shaped pasta that goes best with light sauces. This seafood dish is light and delicious with lemon, white wine, and garlic.

Ingredients:

1 pound angel hair pasta2 tablespoons olive oil1 pound large shrimp, peeled and de-veined4 cloves of garlic, minced½ teaspoon red pepper flakes1 lemon, juiced, plus ½ lemon, zested½ cup dry white wine5 tablespoons butter¼ cup chopped parsley leaves

Directions:

1. Add the pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook until al dente.

2. While the pasta cooks, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Once shimmering and hot, add the shrimp and sauté until just cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. Remove to a plate and reserve the water.

3. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the skillet and sauté until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Add the lemon juice and white wine and raise the heat to high. Let the liquid reduce for 2-3 minutes.

5. Whisk in the butter, add a ladleful of the reserved pasta water and return the shrimp to the skillet. Remove from heat.

6. Drain the pasta in a colander. Add pasta to the skillet along with the chopped parsley and toss.

7. Add the lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste.

8. Transfer to a platter and serve.Serve these dishes with a big salad, some warm bread, a nice bottle of wine, and enjoy. Speaking of wine, here are some suggestions for wine and pasta pairings from Matching Food and Wine.com.

With baby vegetables (primavera) or herbs (verdura): try one of the lesser-known Italian whites such as Falanghina, Vermentino, Arneis, or a Loire Sauvignon Blanc.To offset creamy sauces (eg. carbonara, with smoked salmon): Soave, Bianco di Custoza, Pinot Bianco, Sicilian whites and lighter Chardonnay or Chardonnay blends.Cheese sauces (four cheese, Gorgonzola): crisp dry whites such as Verdicchio, light Chardonnays, or light reds such as Barbera d’Asti or Merlot.Tomato-based sauces include fresh tomato with basil—crisp dry whites such as Pinot Grigio or Verdicchio. Tomato with garlic (napoletana): Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo or a light Sicilian red.

Seafood (spaghetti alle vongole, spaghetti with mussels, linguine with crab) need crisp dry whites such as Frascati, Verdicchio, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Muscadet, or Picpoul de Pinet. A dry rosé is good too. Crab or lobster sauces can take a fuller white such as a good quality Soave or Chardonnay.

Meat (Bolognese, spaghetti with meatballs, sausage-based sauces)is a logical partner for Sicilian and Puglian reds (especially Primitivo), Sangiovese, Rosso di Montalcino and inexpensive Barberas. Zinfandel is good, too.

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