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Pasta, sauces, sides and dessert for the ultimate pasta night

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Pasta is a beloved staple of American weeknight cooking, and for good reason – it’s often the route to a quick and easy meal that can be easily adapted to the tastes of a family or a friend. individual.

But a pasta night can also be a spectacular event. Sometimes that means making your own pasta from scratch or making a jaw-dropping sauce. Maybe that even means rounding out a meal with sides, so the pasta can play with other flavors at the table.

The perfect spread for pasta night is at your fingertips; below, you’ll find recipes for the best pasta party ever. Mix and match as needed – you don’t have to make pasta from scratch, but maybe you want. Maybe you’ll pair it with the sauce you have in the freezer, or maybe you’ll pick up a fun new pasta shape on the market and pair it with a sauce you’ve never tried. previously. Maybe you like a strong, vinegary salad alongside the meal, or some crispy, buttery garlic bread. Tell us your perfect pasta night menu in the comments!

Like I said, you don’t have to make your own pasta. But if you have the time and the will, it can be a fun experience! If you’re not ready to make your own pasta, feel free to skip this section and go straight to the sauce ideas.

Fresh egg pasta for lasagna, illustrated. Yes, it’s “for lasagna,” but you can use this recipe from cookbook author Domenica Marchetti to make all kinds of shapes, including ravioli.

Fresh spinach pasta for lasagna. As above, but in a wonderful green hue, thanks to the spinach.

Basic buckwheat pasta. Want to try something a little different? This dough uses buckwheat to impart a rustic, earthy flavor.

Cavatelli Pugliesi. This is one of the easiest shapes to make by hand, with ridges to hold sauces. Use a ridged gnocchi board, a carved cavarola board, or a more common kitchen tool like the small-hole side of a box grater or even a Microplane.

Ligurian Corzetti. Consider these “pasta pieces” – after making and rolling out the dough, you can use a corzetti stamp or any type of embossing tool to create a pattern, then use a cookie cutter to cut out round shapes.

Gnocchi with ricotta, leeks and peas. Potato gnocchi can be harder to come by, but ricotta gnocchi is a much easier introduction to making these little dumplings.

Gluten Free Mushroom Pappardelle. No gluten? No problem! Take the gluten-free pasta recipe tucked away in this dish and use it for whatever you want.

A detour… for fillings!

Once you have a pasta dough, you can try making ravioli or other stuffed pasta. What can you put there? So many things! Consider filling with creamy fresh ricotta, or if dairy doesn’t work for you, make a vegan version like this tofu ricotta or the savory vegan artichoke tofu ricotta. You can also consider roasting and mashing the squash for garnish, seasoning as you see fit. Pesto would work too! This is your chance to get creative — experiment with spices, zests and/or herbs to make a filling you’ll enjoy. Lay a sheet of pasta flat, add a tablespoon of filling every few inches, lay another sheet on top, then gently press around the filling and cut out your ravioli shapes.

Tomato sauce III by Marcella Hazan, illustrated. Marcella Hazan is the go-to for classic Italian recipes for good reason. This sauce is perhaps the Platonic ideal for a tomato-based red pasta sauce.

Pantry-friendly tomato sauce. Whip up an absolutely huge batch of pasta sauce that you can freeze for so many uses.

Classic basil pesto. We had to include pesto! This sauce has a sincere and dedicated fandom. If you’re a basil pesto purist, this classic iteration stays true to tradition. What if you’re not? Try something different like dandelion green pesto or mustard greens + pecan pesto. Or take the middle route and make Summer Tomato Basil Pasta with Pine Nut Sauce, which basically uses deconstructed pesto.

Spinach Romesco Pasta. Romesco sauce in pasta? We say yes, because it’s so delicious. Mix roasted red pepper with garlic, tomato paste, almonds and a few other ingredients for this lovely sauce.

Penne Alla Vodka With Chicken. Vodka Pasta alla has been in and out of the trend cycle for a while now. A flash in the 90s made it a popular dish, then Refinery29 published an article in 2017 about how pasta could, uh, prelude a romantic activity. And then he returned to social media once again when model Gigi Hadid posted an Instagram Story last year showing people how to make her spicy version of pasta alla vodka. We can’t get rid of this sauce, and frankly it’s so good, we don’t want to. Feel free to leave out the chicken if you don’t want it.

Spaghetti and meatballs in 30 minutes, shown above. We can’t leave out spaghetti and meatballs! If not, how will you spend your Lady and the Tramp moment?

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Prawns and Linguine Fra Diavolo. Spicy prawns in tomato sauce over linguine from none other than the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten? How could you resist, really?

Classic Ragu Bolognese. Writer Leslie Brenner was on the hunt for his perfect Bolognese ragu. This one is. But if you want something a little different, you can try this sumptuous braised lamb stew or this much more weekday friendly turkey and kale stew.

Spaghetti Puttanesca with Cannellini Beans. Brined with anchovies, olives and capers, puttanesca is a versatile and delicious sauce to have in your arsenal. Include beans for more protein, or skip them! Up to you.

Creamy Cannellini Bean Rigatoni. If you want a creamy sauce but don’t do dairy, Creamy White Beans are your answer!

A detour for… pan sauces!

Sometimes you don’t want a thick layer of sauce all over everything – a quick stir-fry of vegetables, possibly with legumes, held together with a little pasta water emulsion and the fat in the pan is what you want. If so, consider following the instructions in these recipes for Pasta e Lenticchie (Pasta and Lentils), Cascatelli with Green Olives, Calabrian Peppers and Lemon Tuna, Pasta with Italian Sausage, Tomatoes and Eggplant, or Pasta with Caramelized Pear and Gorgonzola. Or maybe you want something a little more like broth, but really isn’t soup? Make Linguine alle Vongole (Linguine With Clams).

We said a spread and we thought so! This recipe bundle includes salad recipes to add fresh crunch to the plate, plus a few protein-rich side dishes to counter the veggie-laden pasta and, of course, garlic bread. We love garlic.

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Italian chopped salad from Nancy, illustrated. This mix of bitter greens, umami-rich salami, chickpeas, red onions and more in a zesty red wine dressing will leave you wanting more.

Retro Caesar Salad. It’s a classic salad for a reason! Take a simple Caesar to the table, a nod to red sauce joints.

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Muffuletta Salad. This brackish salad loaded with olives will pleasantly accompany the table.

Salad of herbs and their stems. A light heap of fresh herbs will be a delicious and bright counterpoint to rich pasta.

Roasted garlic soup. Start your meal with a hot cup of garlic soup. Why not?

White Bean Soup with Chili Oil from Calabria. This creamy white bean soup is coated with a spicy drizzle of chili oil.

Spring vegetable soup. A light celebration of the best of spring starts your meal off right.

Triple Garlic Bread. Not just garlic bread. Here we triple the garlic with fresh, roasted and powdered garlic.

Garlic Broccoli and Pesto Beans. This pesto bean dish is super-fast thanks to a neat blanch trick with a kettle.

Mashed Beans with Crostini. Fresh beans make this lovely pale green crostini spread. You can also garnish your toast with other creamy toppings; think whipped ricotta toast with green garlic, peas and prosciutto or sweet pea toast with feta. You could even make a tasty mushroom pie!

Shrimp and White Bean Bruschetta. All you need for this recipe is a baking sheet and a mixing bowl! Toast your toast (up to two days ahead), then roast your shrimp, beans, and tomatoes together and top those toasts.

Carry on and take a break before perusing your dessert menu. Sometimes, even after a rich and hearty meal, you might still want to satisfy your sweet tooth, and who are we to stand in your way? We have provided options ranging from bright and light to decadent.

Semifreddo with summer fruits, illustrated. When you want the vibe of ice cream without all the work, you can make semifreddo using good quality fruit. This one relies on summer fruits, so mark it for the day when the stone fruits and berries are ripe and ready.

Tiramisu. When the tiramisu is good, it’s sublime. When it’s bad…it’s really bad. Fortunately, this moist and rich dessert is phenomenal.

Ricotta cream. Listen. Don’t make cannoli from scratch. Leave that to the professionals. Prepare the ricotta cream poured into it and use pizzelle cookies as a vehicle to scoop it up.

Amaretti dipped in a ruby ​​ganache. These cookies are simple and gorgeous – and a great option for after-dinner coffee dunking. If you don’t feel like chasing ruby ​​chocolate, go ahead and use whatever chocolate you like.

Bomboloni. These little round Italian donuts are the ideal sweet touch at the end of a meal.

Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone Basil. Light, aromatic and juicy, these gorgeous grilled peaches are a bright way to end your evening without sending you straight to bed.

Coffee Granita. An iced coffee granita may be just what you need after a hot meal.

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