The Art of Great Pasta Recipes
Favorite Simple Noodle Recipes
These recipes include a tuna salad with pasta, spicy peanut spaghetti, and spinach lasagna rolls. They all have been favorites of my friends and me since our college years.
Easy Shells and Tuna Salad
You can buy a good pasta, but when you make it yourself is has another feeling.— Agnes Varda, French film director
I never tasted tuna salad until I was in college. After trying several recipes for the dish that included vegetables, peanuts, walnuts, and other ingredients, I decided I liked the canned fish.
Below is one of my favorite recipes for tuna salad with pasta and green peas. It is simple and tasty. The corkscrew, bow tie, or ridged-pipe styles of pasta are fun to look at as well as to eat! The corkscrew noodle is my favorite variety of pasta, so I often use that. You can substitute just about any other style of pasta you like in this recipe. Even spaghetti can be broken into smaller pieces.
As for the tuna, you could substitute cooked chicken, if you like. I have used Kielbasa in place of tuna or chicken and that's also pretty good. I really enjoy a combination of both white-meat chicken and Kielbasa, but you can experiment to find your favorite.
- 4 Cups uncooked pasta shells, bow ties, corkscrews, or ziti, cooked, drained and rinsed in cold water.
- 1.5 Cups frozen peas, thawed
- 1 Rib celery, sliced thin
- 1/2 Red or white onion, chopped (I like to use half of each)
- 1/2 Cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped coarse
- Two 5.5-oz cans tuna
- 1/3 Cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp Dijon or spicy German mustard
- 1/1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- In a mixing bowl place the cooked pasta, thawed peas, celery, onion, parsley and tuna.
- In a smaller bowl, blend EVOO, vinegar, salt, mustard and pepper for dressing.
- Pour the freshly made dressing over the salad.
- Toss the salad and chill before serving.
it is often nice to mound up this dish in the center of a shallow bowl and sprinkle something around the edges—thinly-sliced celery, chopped hard-cooked egg, and sesame seeds come to mind, with a drizzle of the mustard.
Spicy Peanut Spaghetti
Eat the spaghetti to forgetti your regretti.— Author unknown
A friend from Thailand living in the United States taught me much about preparing spicy foods with peanuts. One of the simplest dishes she taught me was this refreshing pasta side dish or entree with spices just hot enough to warm your mouth and memories. The following recipe serves six as a side dish or four as an entree.
- 1 Pound of spaghetti, cooked, drained and placed into a large bowl
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil to add a distinctive Asian flavor
- 1/3 Cup peanut butter
- 1 Tbsp lite soy sauce
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or red ground pepper
- 2 Tbsp water (I use spring water or filtered water.)
- 3 Tbsp Virginia peanuts, chopped mixed with and 2 whole green onions, trimmed and sliced thin. Save a bit of this mix for the garnish on top of the noodles.
- Pour the sesame oil into the bowl of warm noodles and toss gently to flavor the pasta.
- In your blender, puree the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, pepper, and water together. Pour this sauce mixture into a microwave-safe bowl and heat it for 30 seconds.
- Pour the warm sauce over the noodles.
- Garnish the top of this entrée with additional peanuts and sliced green onions.
Plating the Noodles
For individual plating, try the peanuts on top and a whole trimmed green onion or scallion on one side and a slice of fresh fruit like honeydew melon along the other side. I like to serve freshly brewed ice tea with this meal.
Spinach Lasagna Rolls
Life is a combination of magic and pasta.— Frederico Felinni, Italian film director
A long-time Romanian friend, now departed, liked to make lasagna, but found the recipes tedious and expensive. For a fun change, he created a number of variations, and the recipe below is one that I experimented with as well. It will serve six to eight people, depending on what other dishes you serve with it.
Serves 6 to 8
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 5 Cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- One large (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes
- 2 Green onions, trimmed and sliced thin
- 3 Tbsp fresh basil, torn or chopped
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1/4 Cup red wine
- 1 Whole large egg
- 15 oz container Ricotta cheese
- 8 oz shredded Mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 Cup grated Romano cheese
- 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1 15 oz or 16 oz frozen package of chopped spinach, thawed, drained and patted somewhat dry
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Pound of lasagna noodles, cooked al dente, drained, rinsed in cold water and cooled in a large bowl
- One rectangular baking dish
- In a large pot on the stove top over medium heat, sauté the garlic in the oil until fragrant.
- Add all remaining sauce ingredients, stir, raise heat to high and bring to the boil.
- Immediately reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low in order to keep warm.
- In a large bowl, beat the egg well and add in all the rest of the ingredients, except the noodles; blend this mixture well.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Remove bay leaves from sauce and spread 1/4 cup sauce over the bottom of the baking dish.
- Carefully place one cooked noodle in the dish. Spread some filling over the length of the noodle, but leave both ends empty for about 1 inch. Roll up the filled noodle and place it at one end of the dish.
- Keep making rolls as in #9 above until the noodles are gone.
- Pour remaining sauce over the rolls and sprinkle a bit more grated cheese over the top.
- Bake 30 minutes and serve.
Place a few rolls on each individual plate and garnish with fresh chopped parsley over the top and around the edges. Add a drizzle of sauce to one side and top that sauce with some whole Spanish peanuts.
Some Types of Pasta You May LikeClick thumbnail to view full-size
A Fun Pasta Quote
From an episode of Desperate Housewives:
Susan: "Oh, I wouldn't eat that if I were you."
Susan: "I made it, trust me—Hey, do you have a death wish?"
Mike: "No, I just refuse to believe that anybody can screw up macaroni and cheese." (Takes a taste)
Mike: "Oh my God. How did you...it tastes like it's burnt and under-cooked."
Susan: "Yeah, I get that a lot."
© 2009 Patty Inglish MS