Cooking Pasta at Home

Had a conversation at work tonight about Pasta with Sardines and it got me thinking…
Whether you were raised with Ragu or The Family Gravy, most of us probably started off eating Pasta with Red Sauce or Pasta with Butter.
Pasta with Shrimp, Feta and Tomato was my first exotic pasta, but my epiphany came when I realized I could add chicken, chicken stock (Better Than Bouillon now), garlic, herbs and jalapenos to make a totally different easy meal.
What are your simple, go-to pasta dishes that can be made with a few ingredients?


Pasta with sardines, yes or no?


Decades ago, when all our kids were kids, our pasta meals were Macaroni, Ragu and ground beef. Each of them got a Soup Spoon to go from bowl to mouth. Far less mess than spaghetti noodles.


Absolutely. A big yes here. I make pasta and sardines every St Joseph’s Day. I always go to the same local grocer to get my supplies and every year he asks me if I’m Sicilian. Nope - as far as I know, not a drop of Sicilian/Italian blood in me.

This year’s dinner. Served with fennel salad.


My intro to pasta as a child was actually in soup long before plated with any type of gravy. My Russian Mom fixed Big pots of soup Sept-March; it was the norm and pasta filled our belly and stretched a dollar.

Enter my Italian grandparents when Mom got sick. Pasta was served ever other day! Gravy pots always seemed to be on the stove.

That meant either homemade ravioli, a tortellini or cavatelli. Drenched in sauce with a side of homemade ricotta and a hunk of mozz cheese to eat with olive oil dipped Italian bread.

Today, My gal and I fix pasta here at home is fresh spinach fettuccini with parm and cracked black pepper.
We don’t eat as much pasta as we did when we were younger but when we do it conjures a lot of childhood memories.


That looks great. Not sure which looks better, the pasta or salad! I do like sardines or white anchovy in pasta but more infrequently.


Sidebar: I am SO happy you post that fennel salad, because I have fennel and parsley in the house!

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That salad is fantastic.


Love a nice rich gravy/sauce or a well made Bolognese.
The veggie pasta is delicious but my GF won’t try it so I am left to eat it when I can. This was last night’s after work monstrosity with salami, garlic, oil and a bit of leftover steak. Not bad for 1 am meal.


When I was growing up there was spaghetti with my mother’s rceipe (though I suspect it came from my Puerto Rican father’s side of the family, since it had vinegar, olives, and capers–a.k.a. alcaparrado). There was also egg noodles with cottage cheese, sugar, and cinnamon (definitely from my mother’s side).

These days I make pasta with marinara sauce (Classico or my own, depending on time), Alfredo sauce (Classico), or ricotta-walnut sauce.


The newest pasta to me, that I really enjoy, is Sopa Seca.

I was also making a lot of Greek-inspired mac & cheese, with added feta, dill, greens a while back.

I make orzo with tomato, shrimp and feta often. I grew up eating giovetsi with orzo- but that is a slow dish, not a quick pasta.

I really don’t jarred red sauce much. I wouldn’t buy it if I was I only cooking for myself.

For a quicker version of something that tastes like pastitso, this is a good recipe. It’s one of the only Rachel Ray recipes I’ve made, and it was a keeper for me.


I almost always prepare my pasta sauce in the sauté pan where I’ve boiled dried pasta, using the low water method described here. I save a cup of the concentrated starchy cooking water to use in the sauce.

For example, slivers of garlic, halved cherry tomatoes, tomato paste, and crumbled dried oregano (I like the branch type I can buy at the Greek market) get a quick sauté in olive oil. Then the pasta—and enough cooking water to combine everything—get added back into the pan. I’ll add a dab more olive oil or butter at the end, off heat, to enrich. Variations using this technique are pretty much endless.

When I do cook fresh pasta, I go back to the traditional method of lots of water brought to the boil.


My favorite pasta that Mrs. P makes is her rabbit pappardelle with fresh shaved orange rinds.


Outstanding! Those additions look delicious.


Thank you. I don’t make this dish often but we love it. I always have anchovies available and will often add them to sauces for an extra umami kick.

That fennel salad is one of my favorites. It’s a riff on Porta’s grilled octopus and fennel salad.


It’s very Sicilian and has Arab roots. Pasta with sardines is one of the top Sicilian classics. It might shock you to know that this dish also contains sultana/raisins.

I have both sardines and smoked sprats and use either when I feel like it.


I didn’t grow up in the northeast and don’t recall much pasta until my dad retired (to California). Then my mom used to make pasta with a red meat sauce.
My go-tos now are any kind of pasta with a homemade bolognese, or a nice lasagna when I have time.
And lately I have been flashing back to my high school days and enjoying (God help me) instant ramen.


I enjoy ramen too and when I was traveling all the time decent ramen was easier to find than decent pasta! In the truck, I could quick cook ramen with a hit of toasted sesame oil and hot sauce without hesitation.




Growing up, we had spaghetti with a red meat sauce, lasagna, Kraft Mac and cheese, and “noodle pudding”, which was egg noodles, sour cream, cottage cheese, and canned peaches.

We don’t eat a lot of pasta now (we eat pretty low carb), but sometimes we have Rana tortellini with pesto (like tonight!). I occasionally make lasagna or pasta with a red meat sauce. I’d like to make more complex pasta dishes like many of you make, but my husband isn’t a fan.