Fast Weekday Pasta
Spelt Rigatoni with Chicken Livers, Leeks and Sage
Chef Marco Canora likes spelt pasta, which is made with an ancient strain of wheat, but any good-quality whole-wheat rigatoni will work. Just check the ingredient list to make sure it’s whole grain and doesn’t contain sugar, colorings or other additives. Canora also recommends buying livers from pastured chickens because they’re more nutritious than those from factory-farmed birds.
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.
All'Amatriciana with Extra Umami
Top Chef finalist Sarah Grueneberg makes her amatriciana sauce with anchovies, so it's extra-savory.
Spinach and Ricotta Pappardelle
Lidia Bastianich stuffs homemade ravioli with ricotta, leeks, scallions and spinach, then serves it in a butter-sage sauce. At home, deconstruct the ravioli by mixing pappardelle with all the ingredients in the filling (except the labor-intensive leeks).
Orecchiette with Bacon, Black-Eyed Peas and Spinach
This healthful, hearty pasta from chef Helene Henderson has a surprising ingredient, black-eyed peas—considered by Southern cooks to bring good luck. Any tender green, like arugula, would work well instead of the spinach.
Linguine with Clams, Bacon, and Tomato
Clams and bacon form a delectable union enhanced by wine-flavored tomato sauce. We recommend chopped clams, which are sold in refrigerated containers in many fish shops and at supermarkets, but you can also use good-quality canned clams.
Pasta with Sausage, Basil and Mustard
British cookbook author Nigel Slater created this quick pasta supper with warm, mildly spicy flavors.
Fettuccine Alfredo with Asparagus
Creamy, quick, and delicious, and only uses one pot.
Spaghettini with Mushrooms, Garlic, and Oil
We’ve added sautéed mushrooms to the classic—and very simple—spaghetti with garlic and oil, but the dish can still be made in no time at all. Regular white mushrooms are excellent here; portobellos or wild mushrooms would be great, too.
Sausage, escarole, and white beans in a garlicky broth.
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.
Cavatelli with Sardinian Meat Sauce
Frozen cavatelli is better than dried. Since this shape is thick and doughy, the dried version tends to get overcooked on the outside before it's done inside. If you can't find cavatelli in the freezer section of your grocery store, a chunky dried pasta such as rigatoni will also be excellent here. Use the same quantity.
Spaghetti with Escarole and Bacon
Crisp bacon complements escarole so well that you may be tempted to sauté the greens in the bacon fat, but don’t do it; the bacon will then overwhelm the greens completely. Use olive oil instead, which will bring all the flavors together.
Penne with Shrimp and Spicy Tomato Sauce
Paprika, cumin, and ginger lend their aromatic alchemy to a simple, no-cook tomato sauce. You can use the sauce with a wide range of ingredients.
You’ll find an interesting technique here that guarantees juicy chicken: The boneless meat is steamed to moist perfection in hot chicken broth—off the heat.
Farfalle with Spicy Sausage and Butternut Squash
Orecchiette with Sausage and Chicory
Chef Michael White uses dandelion greens to give his slightly spicy sausage pasta a bitter edge, but chicory or escarole makes a great stand-in.
Spaghetti with Sun-Dried-Tomato-Almond Pesto
Updated Chicken Chow Mein
Marcia Kiesel’s modern version of this Chinese-American dish includes stir-fried egg noodles with chicken sausage, chiles, basil and an unexpected ingredient—orange juice.
Shiitake-and-Scallion Lo Mein
Asian street-food carts sometimes serve food in banana leaves instead of using plates or bowls. Look for them at Asian markets. Here, Melissa Rubel Jacobson wraps the leaves around silky Chinese noodles.
Buckwheat Pasta with Summer Squash, Tomatoes and Ricotta
“Our audience has really been receptive to our homemade alternative-flour pastas,” says Travis Lett. He likes buckwheat for its added richness and texture. At the restaurant, Lett cuts the fresh pasta into rough rag shapes and tosses it with summer vegetables; this simplified version uses dried pasta.
Soba Noodles with Grilled Shrimp and Cilantro
Garlicky, spicy and bright with lime, this noodle dish is both warming and energizing, according to Thai tradition. Just don’t skimp on the lime wedges or cilantro: “The sour juice protects the respiratory system in the early spring,” Su-Mei Yu says, “and cilantro helps when you’re congested.”
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.
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.
Ziti, Eggplant, and Fontina Gratin
Eggplant is sautéed in olive oil until it's creamy soft and then tossed with pasta and cheese. A quick stint under the broiler melts the fontina and browns the top.
Creamy Baked Orzo with Goat Cheese
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 Five-Spice Pork and Carrots
Don't be tempted to cook the pork tenderloin any longer than specified, or you'll risk losing its juicy tenderness. By the time you combine it with the hot carrots and sauce and toss it with the pasta, it will be perfectly done.
Bow Ties with Chicken, Watercress, and Walnuts
Chicken and walnuts always taste great together. Here the combination is enhanced by the peppery bite of watercress.
Orecchiette with Indian-Spiced Cauliflower and Peas
Vegetables play an important role in the cuisine of India, and cauliflower and peas are a favorite combination. Here Italian orecchiette catches the peas and the sauce so that each bite is full of flavor.
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.
Pasta with Sautéed Spring Greens
This pasta is a little creamy, with smoky bacon flavor and an appealing pop from the mustard seeds in the greens.
Late-Night Japanese Noodles
This creamy, silky pasta gets salty pops of flavor from fish roe. Paul Qui uses mentaiko (spicy marinated pollock roe), but trout roe or even caviar would be delicious, too.