Pasta recipes that will never expire

Illustration for article titled Pasta recipes that will never expire
Photo: Anda Chu/Digital First Media/East Bay Times (Getty Images)

Everyone, everywhere, is singing pasta’s praises anew right now—even more than dalgona coffee or sourdough bread. It’s a cheap, easy, shelf-stable pantry product that will see you through lean times and quarantines alike. You already know this. You’ve stocked up on angel hair, rigatoni, and even some orecchiette. You’ve got this; you’re good. And yet...

Several weeks of homemade meals in a row is simply a lot of cooking for any one person to take, even if they enjoy it. You might find yourself in a rut, in need of a recipe that varies your routine, something that can be cobbled together with the dwindling contents of your fridge and still be tasty and satisfying enough that you won’t immediately pivot to a make-good meal of frozen pizza. (You’ll be wanting that right around week five, and it’s best to save it for when you most need its cheesy comforts.) So here’s a roundup of our best pasta ideas, all in one place. You can bookmark it for the next time you’re staring down a box of fettuccine noodles in the cabinet, wondering if you’ve got the supplies to make them pop. You do, and they will.

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First, a note on “pantry pasta”

Illustration for article titled Pasta recipes that will never expire
Photo: robynmac (iStock)

Technically, any recipe for pasta could constitute a “pantry pasta.” Everybody’s got different pantries—we’ve all got different ingredients lying around. But the concept of pantry pasta should have a certain unifying ethos: any recipe should, first and foremost, include minimal ingredients. Those ingredients should also be readily available to home cooks of any level. And the pasta should have a good amount of bite from some combination of acid, garlic, or salt, because strong flavor is a great remedy for a lack of resources. Check out five ideas for pantry pasta here.

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A tagliatelle that’ll make your produce pop

Illustration for article titled Pasta recipes that will never expire
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This recipe is for when you’re missing summer tomatoes, which is, what, nine months of the year here in the Midwest? The key to evoking summer tomato flavor is your broiler. Get the tomatoes good and jammy and pair them with a silky egg yolk mixed right into the pasta just before you eat it—the result is a simple, memorable tagliatelle that will instantly transport you to warmer days. The recipe can be found here.

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Rigatoni that only gets better the second day

Illustration for article titled Pasta recipes that will never expire
Photo: Allison Robicelli

The point of a well-stocked kitchen isn’t just to have things on hand that are listed in the recipes you use—it’s also to have things on hand that can be made delicious with very little little effort. This pasta wrangles a list of solid grocery staples into one shockingly tasty dish, and makes enough that you’ll have plenty of leftovers even if you have a whole household to feed. You can add or subtract whichever elements you like depending on what’s in your fridge, but try working in grape tomatoes, feta, spinach, artichoke hearts, chicken sausage, and olives. You won’t be disappointed.

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Get the true Japanese spaghetti experience you never knew you were missing

Illustration for article titled Pasta recipes that will never expire

Yoshoku, the Japanese take on on Western cooking, is a cuisine that never disappoints—especially Itameshi, or Japanese-Italian food, which features familiar pasta classics imbued with deeper umami flavor. This recipe tries to reproduce one such dish from Trattoria Nakamura-Ya in Las Vegas, using butter to bring all the disparate elements together. Strips of seasoned nori on top make this more identifiably Japanese, as does a dash of Tabasco sauce over the top. Try making it tonight.

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Simple, reliable vodka cream pasta

Illustration for article titled Pasta recipes that will never expire
Photo: EzumeImages (iStock)

The only real trick involved in this pasta is waiting it out. You need to give the tomatoes time to cook down, but really, that’s about it. The vodka adds a richness to the sauce (as does the cream, obviously), making this a delicious and super easy pantry dinner. One warning: don’t try to swap out the heavy cream for half-and-half, as it won’t bring the whole sauce together. Find the recipe here.

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Sicilian New Orleans pasta, fit for any feast

Illustration for article titled Pasta recipes that will never expire
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This dish is a staple of Italian Creole cooking, and it’s eaten in New Orleans each year on the saint’s feast day in March. It features a dense sauce called “red gravy” and pungent tastes that provide a contrast to refined Creole and spicy Cajun food. St. Joseph’s Day Pasta comes together in under an hour, and it’s a wonderful way to incorporate a readily available protein from your pantry, along with tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, and raisins (if you opt for them), whenever you feel like eating something hearty. Here’s the recipe.

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Fall in love with cabbage fettuccine

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Green cabbage is some seriously underrated produce. It’s cheap, it has a long shelf life, and it’s damn tasty as long as you remember not to boil it. This pasta recipe borrows from Marcella Hazan’s revelatory recipe for Venetian smothered cabbage, which is impossibly easy to make. Its ingredients are pedestrian and cheap, and yet it’s somehow one of the most delicious things you could ever taste. So why not combine that with the comforts of pasta and cheese? When you put these true miracle foods together in one dish, magic happens. See for yourself.

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Make a celebrity’s scene-stealing lemon pasta

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This comes from Sophia Loren’s own cookbook, and it comes together with astonishing ease. You can make the whole sauce while the water is boiling. Just be careful not to burn the butter (or the garlic), but once you mix the cream in, it all combines easily. Once you combine the base sauce with your spaghetti, fettuccine, or other thin pasta, then you are free to amp this dish up with whatever you’d like. At the end you will have a deceptively simple and delicious pasta dish. It’s one of those go-to meals that can serve as a late-night snack, brunch, or a side dish for some salmon. It’s a little rich, but it’s also intoxicating—just like Sophia Loren herself. Here’s the recipe.

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Spaghetti Pie isn’t just a recipe—it’s a philosophy

Illustration for article titled Pasta recipes that will never expire
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Nothing uses up leftovers like a spaghetti pie. Deli meats and stray vegetables get sautéed together in a pan with spaghetti. Add whisked eggs and cheese before throwing it into the oven. What comes out is, essentially, a frittata with spaghetti in it. It’s an easy way to wrangle in a bunch of miscellaneous ingredients into a Sunday supper (or hangover cure). Most importantly, the recipe is just a suggestion. You can take anything, put it into a sauté pan with spaghetti and eggs, and eat the results. The world is your spaghetti pie.

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Got a random can of crab meat? You’ve got dinner

Illustration for article titled Pasta recipes that will never expire
Photo: Antonina Koreneva (iStock)

Sometimes we find ourselves with pantry goods of utterly unknown origin. Here in the Midwest especially, canned or tinned seafood is a protein that gets thrown into the grocery cart with the vague idea that “we can always use it for something.” But what? This pasta dish. It’s a recipe that can be thrown together in 10 minutes and makes use of angel hair pasta, crab meat, and whatever else is in your cupboards. Or, if canned crab meat isn’t something lurking in your pantry, you can just borrow this recipe’s technique of slow-caramelizing tomato paste + butter + lemon + protein, which will always result in something delicious. See the steps here.

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Start a new tradition with Sweet Spaghetti

Illustration for article titled Pasta recipes that will never expire
Photo: robynmac (iStock)

If you haven’t heard of Sweet Spaghetti, that’s because it’s a recipe that seemingly originated and flourished within a single family’s repertoire, then stayed there. It’s a tangerine-hued, curiously cloying dish that can please a crowd as either a main or a side, but you will need a serious can of soup for this one. A family-sized can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup (as opposed to its single-serve counterpart) boasts a toothsomely mellow, almost honeyed formula that serves as the perfect foil to the brininess of the sauce’s bacon and the undercover earthiness of the blitzed vegetables. Make this straightforward vat of spaghetti at home and see if it becomes your own family’s cross-generational obsession.

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With a name like Garbage Pesto, it’s gotta be good

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Photo: serezniy (iStock)

While this recipe was initially developed to deal with a glut of vegetables overflowing in the backyard garden, you certainly don’t need to grow anything yourself to make it—it’s also a solution for using up all the leafy greens in your produce drawer that you bought at the grocery store with grand salad ambitions before subsequently ignoring them for weeks. This pesto has a fresh, just-shy-of-bitter flavor, which tastes lighter and less unctuous than the standard basil-and-pine-nut pesto. Oh, and that’s another great aspect of Garbage Pesto: You don’t even need pine nuts. And this magic condiment isn’t just for pasta—spread it on pizza and sandwiches, or just dunk some nice bread in it. Voila.

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A garlicky linguine that never gets old

Illustration for article titled Pasta recipes that will never expire
Photo: serezniy (iStock)

This is a cheap meal, just pasta and veggies and anchovies. The ingredients are simple, inexpensive, and when they come together, it’s a beautiful symphony of subtle flavors and rich textures. There are a few protein options, like shrimp or chicken, that you can incorporate if you’re not going the meatless route. But the way it’s intended to be served is with anchovies. With al dente linguine and velvety broccoli, anchovies add a complex saltiness and a baseline brininess. In short, anchovies add dimension. You’ll definitely want to make enough for leftovers.

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