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3 Easy Pasta Combos

3 Easy Pasta Combos

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Pasta is a classic meal, and there are millions of ways to prepare it - so chef Joshna Maharaj came by to share 3 of her favourites: Rigatoni Alfredo with Wild Mushrooms, Penne alla Vodka, and Pasta with Olive Oil & Garlic. All are super-simple and delicious!

RECIPES:

Rigatoni Alfredo with Wild Mushrooms
Serves 6

Alfredo sauce was originally created from only butter and parmesan cheese. That recipe has been adapted to include heavy cream, which has become the standard for most alfredo sauces. Sauteeing the mushrooms separately adds a real depth of flavour to this dish.

Ingredients
1lb mixed wild mushrooms, stems removed and chopped/torn into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
4 sprigs fresh thyme

1lb rigatoni pasta
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus more for garnish
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Method
1. In a high-sided saute pan, heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add mushrooms, pull leaves from thyme sprigs and add to mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat mushrooms with oil and herbs. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until mushrooms have shrunk slightly and are lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Wipe inside of pan with a paper towel.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add rigatoni and stir well. Cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking liquid.

3. In the same high-sided saute pan, heat butter on medium to melt. Add cream and simmer until mixture has reduced slightly. Add cheese and cook, being careful not to boil.

4. Add drained pasta, 1/4 cup of cooking liquid, nutmeg and reserved mushrooms to cream mixture and toss well to coat pasta and mushrooms with sauce. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Penne alla Vodka
Serves 6

This is probably one of my favourite things to order in an Italian restaurant. It's very simple, but so delicious. I like the flavour of the pancetta, but feel free to leave it out if you wish. Serve piping hot with a hunk of crusty Italian bread for sopping up the sauce.

Ingredients

1 35-oz can whole plum tomatoes with their liquid
1lb penne rigate
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup pancetta, cut into lardons
10 cloves garlic, peeled
crushed hot red pepper
1/4 cup vodka
1/2 cup heavy cream
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for passing if you like
kosher salt

Method
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Pour the tomatoes and their liquid into the work bowl of a food processor. Using quick on/off pulses, process the tomatoes just until they are finely chopped. (Longer processing will aerate the tomatoes, turning them pink.)

2. Stir the penne into the boiling water. Bring the water back to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until done, 8-10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat a high-sided saute pan to medium high and render fat from the pancetta, lightly browning the pieces. Whack the garlic cloves with the side of a knife and add them to the rendered pancetta (add olive oil as necessary to keep the pancetta from sticking). Cook, shaking the skillet, until the garlic is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Lower the bowl with the tomatoes close to the skillet and carefully - they will splatter - slide the tomatoes into the pan. Bring to a boil, season lightly with salt and generously with crushed red pepper, and boil 2 minutes.

4. Pour in the vodka, lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer, and simmer until the pasta is ready. Just before the pasta is done, fish the garlic cloves out of the sauce and pour in the cream.

5. If the skillet is large enough to accommodate the sauce and pasta, add the cooked, drained pasta directly into the sauce in the skillet. If not, drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and pour in the sauce. Bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, stirring to coat the pasta with sauce. Check the seasoning, adding salt and red pepper if necessary. Sprinkle the parsley over the pasta and boil gently until the sauce is reduced enough to cling to the pasta.

6. Remove the pot from the heat, sprinkle 3/4 cup of the cheese over the pasta, and toss to mix. Serve immediately, passing additional cheese if you like.

Pasta Olio & Aglio
Pasta with Olive Oil & Garlic

Serves 4-6

This couldn't be an easier recipe! Just a few ingredients can produce a beautiful plate of food. Use the best quality olive oil you can get your hands on.

Ingredients

1lb long pasta (spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, etc.)
1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 small handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Method
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and stir well. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.

2. In a high-sided saute pan, heat olive oil on medium high. Add garlic and chilies and saute until garlic just starts to brown. Add cooked pasta and 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Season with salt and pepper and toss well to coat pasta with the flavoured oil. Add more cooking liquid if necessary. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

 

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