One of the best qualities that pasta possesses is that it is incredibly versatile. With the wide variety of shapes and flour blends which make up the pasta, the possibilities really are endless. The fact that pasta is economically friendly is another huge bonus. You can make hundreds of dishes without spending hundreds of dollars- talk about a great meal choice! Let’s take a look at 5 different ways to serve pasta that you are sure to love.
Caprese is the term used for the combination of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil and using this mix has to be one of the simplest yet flavorful ways to make pasta. This dish is perfect to serve in the summertime as it is very light. Caprese is often served with salad or on its own with large pieces of mozzarella, big tomato slices and whole basil leaves making a sort of make shift sandwich. Caprese is also a great compliment to on bread or pasta which is what we are most interested in!
The noodle shape for caprese pasta is totally at the discretion of the chef. While many prefer shorter noodles like penne or orecchiette, long noodles such as spaghetti also work great. Smaller pieces of mozzarella are preferable and the small pearl sized mozzarella balls are fantastic in this dish. Chopped basil and tomatoes are tossed in the pasta as well and the pasta is mixed and served with a drizzle of olive oil.
Some subtle variations of caprese include adding roasted garlic or even balsamic vinaigrette along with the olive oil. The main take away from caprese pasta is that you should never under estimate the power of a few simple, quality ingredients (keeps your grocery list nice and short too!).
Speaking of keeping it simple, marinara with pasta is as classic of a dish as you can get. Pasta with marinara sauce has been a favorite of Italian Americans since Italians first immigrated to the United States. The meal was cheap, easy and tasted like home.
Not much has changed since then when it comes to pasta with marinara. It is still inexpensive to make, consisting of mainly tomatoes, herbs and sometimes meat. The sauce is boiled together and pureed to have a nice smooth texture and then served warm on top of any shape pasta available.
Pasta and marinara is loved by kids and adults alike and having a jar of marinara in the house (or a homemade container in the freezer) is like having a full meal ready to go! This dish has been around for so many years for a reason!
Using pasta to make a frittata is something that many people may not think of but it is the perfect way to use any left over pasta you may have (and it is also worth making a whole box of pasta just so you can make a frittata!). A Frittata is an Italian egg based dish which can be equated to a crust less quiche. Just like in a quiche, a frittata can have almost anything added to it. Tomatoes, sausage, peppers…you name it! The flavors in a frittata are yours for the choosing.
Adding leftover pasta to a frittata base is also a perfect way to hold the egg dish together. Noodles act as a binder and give the frittata some substance to keep it together when cut. All you have to do it stir in the cooked noodles to some whisked eggs, milk and seasonings. The mix is then poured into a hot skillet, covered and cooked until the egg is no longer runny and the center of the frittata is set (just like a quiche again!). So throw in your left over rottini or whip up a box of angel hair just so you can make this tasty Italian dish.
Baked pasta dishes have to be one of the hallmarks of Italian cuisine. Everyone has a lasagna recipe or a version of stuffed shells up their sleeve! And who can blame us- baked pasta is amazing! Most Italian baked pasta dishes are very similar and contain a lot of the same ingredients. Noodles, marinara, cheese and ground meat is the common trend among baked pastas. Luckily, all of these ingredients are also fairly inexpensive- you don’t need to buy filet mignon to have an amazing dinner!
Soups on their own are sometimes not very filling especially if it is a simple broth based soup. Adding pasta to soup is a great way to make a light dish into a full meal. Italian chicken noodle soup, Italian wedding soup and minestrone are a few examples of soups that really need pasta to make them complete. With pasta being so inexpensive and soup also being on the budget friendly side, pasta in soup is a fantastic low cost meal!
No matter what kind of soup you are making or what kind of noodles you are using, there are a few keys to making the soup correctly. First, you always want to cook the noodles fully before adding them to the soup. This way, the noodles won’t absorb all the broth. The noodles should also be added right before you serve the soup as the last step in the recipe. When left to sit in the soup too long, the noodles will absorb the broth slowly (even if they are cooked) and you will be left with some big juicy noodles!
There are so many more ways to make serve pasta that this is just a quick sample of meal possibilities. However, the moral here is that you should definitely stock up on boxes of pasta the next time you go to the store. And why not? It is cheap, tasty and you can have a different pasta meal every night!
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