Pasta Shells with Peas and Ham
Country ham—rubbed with salt and sugar, smoked for weeks, then hung to cure for at least six months—is quintessentially Southern. Because it's so salty, it's ideal as an accent in dishes like this homey pasta.
Cavatelli with Roasted Broccoli Rabe & Harissa
Broccoli rabe rarely makes it into the oven; most cooks sauté or braise it instead. But roasting brings out its sweetness even more. Michael Natkin uses the smart technique for a fast pasta with cavatelli, smoked paprika and the Tunisian chile paste harissa.
Cheese Tortellini with Walnut Pesto
Here's one of the quickest pesto sauces you'll come across. It's a perfect match for cheese tortellini, but you can use other tortellini such as mushroom or meat instead. The pesto is also great with just about any plain pasta.
Farfalle a la Vodka
This is a Zimmern family favorite, a great recipe for a midweek dinner. The amped-up tomato sauce gets a kick from the vodka and a rich, smoky flavor from the bacon. The kids will love it, and yes, the alcohol boils off. We sometimes take this a step further and put out a grater and three or four hard cheeses for folks to choose either a pecorino, an aged goat Gouda, a Parm or other salty, aged piece of magic for their pasta.
Fettuccine with Escarole and Brie
F&W's Grace Parisi makes brilliant use of Brie here. After removing the rind from the cheese, she combines it with the pasta cooking water to make a rich, silky sauce for the fettuccine.
Mexican-Style Chicken with Penne
Adding a small amount of canned chipotle chiles in adobo (available at most supermarkets) makes a basic tomato sauce smoky and complex. Finishing the dish with queso blanco and chopped cilantro leaves intensifies the Latin flavor.
Fusilli with Summer Tomato Sauce
For this light, uncooked sauce, you must have perfectly ripe tomatoes. Be sure they're at room temperature, too, not cold. In fact, tomatoes shouldn't be refrigerated at all; chilling permanently reduces their flavor.
Linguine with Onion, Bacon, and Parmesan
The browned onions lend a slight sweetness to this dish. If you prefer not to have that caramelized flavor, just soften the onions for five minutes without browning them, or try the variation below using leeks.
Cavatappi with Chorizo and Black Beans
The full, earthy Tex-Mex flavors of chorizo, black beans and chili blend perfectly, if somewhat unexpectedly, with corkscrew-shaped macaroni.
Spaghetti with Parsley Almond Pesto
Parsley, rather than the traditional basil, makes this pesto a year-round staple. Because the taste of almonds is more delicate than that of the usual pine nuts, we have chopped rather than ground them. Their flavor really comes through when you bite in to a nutty chunk.
Macaroni with Summer Squash, Salami, and Ricotta Tomato Sauce
Sun-dried tomatoes add lots of flavor to the sauce. If you prefer zucchini, you can use it in place of the summer squash.
Penne with Asparagus, Sage and Peas
For a simple spring dish, chef Cindy Pawlcyn folds penne with asparagus and sweet English peas, then adds a little cream for richness.
Bow Ties with Sweet Potatoes and Canadian Bacon
Bow-tie pasta with slices of sweet potato, diced Canadian bacon, and tomato puree form a harmonious dish of varied flavors, shapes, and colors. We use sage here, but if you don't care for it, try the same quantity of thyme instead.
Fettuccine with Cherry Tomatoes and Watercress
Succulent little cherry tomatoes know no season, so you can enjoy this fresh-tasting no-cook pasta sauce any time of year. Marinate the tomatoes for at least the time it takes to boil the water and cook the fettuccine; the longer you let them sit, the better the sauce will be.
Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, Bacon, and Bread Crumbs
For a pleasant change of pace, we toss crisp, golden bread crumbs with the pasta instead of the usual grated cheese. If you don't have orecchiette, replace them with shells, bow ties, rotelle, or fusilli.
Pasta Shells with Shrimp and Garlicky Bread Crumbs
Parmesan and a lemon anchovy dressing coat shells, shrimp, and curly endive for a pasta salad that's second cousin to a shrimp Caesar. Instead of big croutons, sautéed bread crumbs make a crisp topping.
Orecchiette with Sausage and Chicory
At Alto, Michael White uses dandelion greens to give his slightly spicy sausage pasta a bitter edge, but chicory or escarole makes a great stand-in.
We find this sauce, which is traditionally simmered for a long time, tastes just as good when cooked for less than half an hour. Now you won't have to consign Bolognese sauce to the lazy Sunday afternoon of cooking that never comes.
Bow Ties with Sun-Dried Tomato and Scallion Cream
Sun-dried tomatoes give intense flavor to this quick, no-cook sauce. Fusilli would also be a good shape to use here; the cream sauce will cling to its every curve.
Toasted Spaghetti with Clams
Adrià credits the idea for this dish to one of his acolytes, Moreno Cedroni, the hyper-creative Italian chef at La Madonnina del Pescatore in Italy's Marzocca di Senigallia. The method is very similar to risotto, but spaghetti fills in for the arborio rice: Adrià toasts it in a pan with a little oil, then adds hot clam juice until the pasta is fully cooked and loaded with briny flavor.
Broken Lasagna with Walnut Pesto
"Whole-grain pasta is one of the easiest ways to sneak whole grains into your diet," Heidi Swanson says. Her lasagna, made with noodles broken into 1-inch pieces, features a healthy pesto made with walnuts and basil.
Spaghetti with Anchovy Carbonara
Ziti with Portobello Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, and Goat Cheese
Meaty mushrooms are enhanced by sweet caramelized onions and just enough tangy melted goat cheese in this delicious year-round pasta.
At New York City's Babbo, Mario Batali creates a simple, brilliant version of this classic dish, tossing the long, hollow pasta strands with house-cured guanciale (pork jowl) and a spicy house-made tomato sauce. At home, use pancetta, which is simpler to find than guanciale, and buy a good jarred tomato sauce instead of making one.
Summery Fettuccine Alfredo
This extra-light Alfredo sauce for pasta gets its silkiness from fresh ricotta and grated pecorino cheese.
Linguine with Snow Peas, Cucumber, and Peanut Sauce
Kids will be especially fond of this Asian–inspired noodle dish—after all, the sauce is made with peanut butter—but the combination of cooked and raw vegetables is refreshing and satisfying enough to please all ages. Serve the pasta immediately after tossing it with the peanut mixture; the sauce gets thick if it sits too long.
Orecchiette with Broccoli and Tomatoes
Balsamic vinegar adds a hint of sweetness to this savory sauce. If the slight sweet-and-sour effect isn't to your taste, either omit the vinegar completely or use wine vinegar instead. The effect will be different, but no less delicious.
Pasta with Guanciale, Radicchio and Ricotta
To make this rich pasta, chef Nancy Silverton sautés guanciale (cured pork jowl) and then cooks the radicchio and red onions in the rendered fat. She likes to use a little-known pasta called calamarata—which looks like thick squid rings—to catch the sauce, but any wide, tubular pasta is great.