I make pasta at least once a week, so I thought I knew all the tricks: Cook until al dente (toothsome, not tender). Salt the water lavishly (I estimate a heaping tablespoon of salt per quart of water). And use a small amount of water for the best pan sauce (looking at you, aglio e olio).
But, then I binge-read Ina Garten’s latest cookbook, Cook Like a Pro, learned a game-changing trick—and it just happened to be easiest of all: Use different pasta shapes in the same dish.
To put it lightly, my pantry has a lot of leftover boxes of pasta. Penne. Rigatoni. Fusilli. Cavatappi. Spaghetti. Why did I never think to combine them? Maybe because no recipe had ever given me permission. But, if Ina’s doing it—I want to be doing it.
She showcases this trick in her Baked Pasta With Tomatoes & Eggplant, which calls for penne rigate and fusilli. So, two short shapes: one tubular, the other twirly.
There are no rules to mixing and matching pasta shapes. Just follow this general idea: Combine short shapes with other short shapes, and long shapes with other long shapes. And who’s to stop you from combining three, or even four, different types? Whatever the original recipe calls for, just add in one or more new shapes.
2 teaspoons Turkish or Syrian chile flakes (or less, depending on how spicy they are)
1 2/3 cups fresh basil leaves, coarsely torn
8 ounces feta cheese, broken into chunks
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
Put the yogurt, 6 tablespoons of the olive oil, the garlic, and 2/3 cup of the peas in a food processor. Blitz to a uniform pale green sauce and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente. As the pasta cooks, heat the remaining olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and chile flakes and fry for 4 minutes, until the nuts are golden and the oil is deep red. Also, heat the remaining peas in some boiling water, then drain.
Drain the cooked pasta into a colander, shake well to get rid of the water, and add the pasta gradually to the yogurt sauce; adding it all at once may cause the yogurt to split. Add the warm peas, basil, feta, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon white pepper. Toss gently, transfer to individual bowls, and spoon over the pine nuts and their oil.
Pasta is on weekly rotation in my household for, I’m sure, the same reasons it is in yours: It’s easy, it’s comforting, and it’s something everyone agrees on. During the cold winter months, my go-to pastas are saucier and heartier (think: eggplant Bolognese or baked mac and cheese) than their lighter summer counterparts.
But there are times when I don’t want pasta night to be synonymous with a “night off” from how I typically eat. I follow a healthy plant-based diet, and most of my dinners revolve around whole grains, legumes, and vegetables, so it’s nice when pasta night can fit into this type of eating. Enter: this Yotam Ottolenghi pasta dish (from his cookbook Jerusalem), which is light, fresh, and packed with protein while still satisfying all my winter pasta cravings.
Quick Pantry Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Burrata… for those nights when you’re craving a fresh pasta dish, but don’t feel like heading to the store. I went to my go-to pantry staple, sun-dried tomatoes, to create this quick and easy 30 minute pasta dish. I used a little garlic, chili peppers, tomato paste, and basil, to flavor the dish. Then I used the reserved pasta cooking water to create a luscious sauce. Finally, I finished each bowl of pasta off with fresh burrata cheese and a light drizzle of olive oil. Perfection.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Just before draining, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain.
Meanwhile, drain the sun-dried tomato oil out into a large skillet. Reserve the tomatoes.
Set the skillet over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, 1/4 cup basil, and lemon zest. Cook 2-3 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the tomato paste, cook another minute. Stir in 3/4 cup of the reserved pasta water and bring to a simmer. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and pasta, tossing to coat. Stir in the parmesan and a pinch of pepper. Cook until warmed through, 1-2 minutes. Add the parsley and remaining 1/4 cup basil, toss until the herbs are wilted and the sauce coats the pasta, about 2-3 minutes, adding in more pasta water if needed to thin the sauce. Remove from the heat.
Transfer the pasta to serving bowls and top each with burrata. Drizzle with olive oil, dill, and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!