Kitchen Basics: How to Make the Perfect Pasta Dish

By October 8, 2014Kitchen Basics

Joy to the… pasta.

I’m practicing Christmas songs for a concert in December. Mostly I have a really high screechy “eeee”  sound in my head. Along with a medley of the other seven or eight songs that we’re going to be singing.

So far the dog has yet to look at me with that alert, head tilted, ears perked up look… So far.

And then there was pasta. What I meant to tell you about, but Christmas is bouncing around my brain instead. Also banana bread. Because that’s what I’m eating.

Are you still there?

For the three of you still reading, what I really want to talk about is what I want for Christmas pasta and how to successfully make a great pasta dish.

You’re thinking that it doesn’t take much. Right? Ok, maybe it doesn’t take much to make a pasta dish. But, let’s talk about making it a fabulous dish. Also, Erh mah gawsh! I just finished my last bite of banana bread that was topped with some salted butter and I’m having a hard time not just shoving the entire loaf into my face.

I digress.

You can start with any category and build from there. Maybe you’ve got some ground beef and tomatoes that you want to use. From there, you can add some other veggies, figure out the sauce, and choose the best noodles. You might have some jars of Tomato Sauce in the freezer and need to make space for something else. Then you’ll figure out maybe some chicken, zucchini, parmesan, and wide, flat noodles to go with it. Or, you might just be craving pasta. Any kind of pasta. Elbow macaroni sounds good, and you could add heaps of cheese to a bechamel.

I usually start with what’s going in to the pasta. The veggies and if there’s meat, that too. Then I figure out the sauce, the noodles, and then the toppings. I use The Flavor Bible all the time. It’s a great helper for figuring out what foods pair well together. But, if you don’t have this book, listen to your taste buds. Think about foods that you enjoy eating together.

Here are some suggestions for how to put your perfect pasta dish together:

The Additions

1. Broccoli + Cauliflower + Garlic + Thyme

2. Carrots + Spinach + Chicken

3. Pumpkin

4. Tomatoes + Zucchini + Onions + Mozzarella + Ricotta + Chicken

5. Eggplant + Garlic + Onion + Thyme + Red Pepper Flakes

6. Dried Tomatoes + Bell Peppers + Garlic

7. Ground Beef + Onions + Garlic + Celery + Capers

8. Beets + Parmesan + Shallots + Garlic

9. Radish + Cabbage + Kale + Meatballs

10. Roasted Fennel + Salmon + Garlic + Zucchini

11. Lentils + Carrots + Celery + Bacon

The Sauce

1. Broccoli + Cauliflower + Garlic + Thyme + Brown Butter Sauce + Salt + Pepper

2. Carrots + Spinach + Chicken + Salt + Pepper + Cream Sauce

3. Pumpkin + Salt + Pepper + Cheddar + Parmesan + All Spice + Red Pepper Flakes

4. Tomatoes + Zucchini + Onions + Mozzarella + Ricotta + Chicken + Salt + Pepper + Pesto

5. Eggplant + Garlic + Onion + Thyme + Red Pepper Flakes + Salt + Pepper + Olive Oil

6. Dried Tomatoes + Bell Peppers + Garlic + Salt + Pepper + Olive Oil + Lemon Juice + Balsamic Vinegar

7. Ground Beef + Onions + Garlic + Celery + Capers + Butter Sauce + Salt + Pepper

8. Beets + Parmesan + Shallots + Garlic + Balsamic Vinegar + Salt + Pepper

9. Radish + Cabbage + Kale + Meatballs + Tomato Sauce + Salt + Pepper + Italian Seasonings

10. Roasted Fennel + Salmon + Garlic + Zucchini + Cream Sauce + Salt + Pepper

11. Lentils + Carrots + Celery + Bacon + Salt + Pepper + Tomato Sauce

The Noodles

1. Broccoli + Cauliflower + Garlic + Thyme + Brown Butter + Salt + Pepper + Linguini

2. Carrots + Spinach + Chicken + Salt + Pepper + Cream Sauce + Penne + Parsley + Dill + Fusilli

3. Pumpkin + Salt + Pepper + Cheddar + Parmesan + All Spice + Red Pepper Flakes + Elbow Macaroni

4. Tomatoes + Zucchini + Onions + Mozzarella + Ricotta + Chicken + Salt + Pepper + Pesto + Lasagna

5. Eggplant + Garlic + Onion + Thyme + Red Pepper Flakes + Salt + Pepper + Olive Oil + Egg Noodles

6. Dried Tomatoes + Bell Peppers + Garlic + Salt + Pepper + Olive Oil + Lemon Juice + Balsamic Vinegar + Orzo

7. Ground Beef + Onions + Garlic + Celery + Capers + Butter Sauce + Salt + Pepper + Ziti

8. Beets + Parmesan + Shallots + Garlic + Balsamic Vinegar + Salt + Pepper + Penne

9. Radish + Cabbage + Kale + Meatballs + Tomato Sauce + Salt + Pepper + Italian Seasonings + Spaghetti

10. Roasted Fennel + Salmon + Garlic + Zucchini + Cream Sauce + Salt + Pepper + Farfalle

11. Lentils + Carrots + Celery + Bacon + Salt + Pepper + Tomato Sauce + Orecchiette

The Toppings

1. Broccoli + Cauliflower + Garlic + Thyme + Brown Butter + Salt + Pepper + Linguini + Gruyère = Winter Veggie Linguini with Brown Butter

2. Carrots + Spinach + Chicken + Salt + Pepper + Cream Sauce + Penne + Parsley + Dill + Basil = Baked Fusilli with Carrots and Spinach in a Creamy Sauce

3. Pumpkin + Salt + Pepper + Cheddar + Parmesan + All Spice + Red Pepper Flakes + Elbow Macaroni + Homemade Croutons + Caramelized Onions + Parmesan + Bacon = Pumpkin Pasta

4. Tomatoes + Zucchini + Onions + Mozzarella + Ricotta + Chicken + Salt + Pepper + Pesto + Lasagna + Fresh Basil + Parmesan Cheese = Presto Pesto Lasagna

5. Eggplant + Garlic + Onion + Thyme + Red Pepper Flakes + Salt + Pepper + Olive Oil + Egg Noodles + Basil + Lemon = Melanzane with Pasta

6. Dried Tomatoes + Bell Peppers + Garlic + Salt + Pepper + Olive Oil + Lemon Juice + Balsamic Vinegar + Orzo + Parmesan = Orzo with Dried Tomatoes and Garlic

7. Ground Beef + Onions + Garlic + Celery + Capers + Butter Sauce + Salt + Pepper + Ziti + Fresh Tomatoes = Beef and Capers Stuffed Ziti

8. Beets + Parmesan + Shallots + Garlic + Balsamic Vinegar + Salt + Pepper + Penne + Parmesan + Lemon = Beet and Parmesan Penne

9. Radish + Cabbage + Kale + Meatballs + Tomato Sauce + Salt + Pepper + Italian Seasonings + Spaghetti + Parmesan + Basil = Spaghetti and Meatballs

10. Roasted Fennel + Salmon + Garlic + Zucchini + Cream Sauce + Salt + Pepper + Farfalle + Lemon + Chives + Parsley = Farfalle with Roasted Fennel and Salmon

11. Lentils + Carrots + Celery + Bacon + Salt + Pepper + Tomato Sauce + Orecchiette + Parsley + Fresh Tomatoes = Orcchiette with Lentils and Bacon

The Banana Bread

Right, I’m still thinking about banana bread. I think I’ll go get another slice, and then make Mac and Cheese for dinner… Except that we’re out of cheese. Wah wah.

Happy Eating!

Author Rachel Oberg

More posts by Rachel Oberg

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