Basta Pasta: 6 Italian-Inspired Recipes

Leave your luggage and passports where they are – you can enjoy the incredible pasta of Italy at home with these six easy and delicious Italian-inspired recipes.

Shake up this Limoncello Martini and this kid-friendly Nutella Milkshake  for some festive sips.

Pasta alla Norma

Ingredients
1 large eggplant (about 1 lb), sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Sicilian Sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups plum tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata or soft ricotta
3/4 lb fusilli or penne pasta

Directions
1) Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.

2) Place eggplant slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the slices over and bake an additional 10 minutes, until soft and golden. Once cool enough to handle, cut into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.

3) For the sauce, in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, continuously stirring for 1 minute, until garlic becomes fragrant. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and continue to simmer on low for 15 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened. Add eggplant pieces, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine. Remove from heat and add fresh basil and ricotta salata.

4) For the pasta, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook until tender. Drain well and return to pot. Toss hot pasta with sauce and serve immediately.

Serves 6

red-pepper-pasta

Quick & Easy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

Ingredients
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and chopped
¼ cup ground almonds
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, chopped
1 tbsp chopped shallot
¾ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ cup olive oil

1 lb fusilli
1 cup fresh peas
½ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Directions
1) For the roasted red pepper sauce, in a food processor or blender, combine roasted red peppers, ground almonds, red wine vinegar, Parmesan cheese, sundried tomatoes, shallot, salt and pepper. Blend until well chopped. Add olive oil and blend until smooth. Cover and let stand until ready to dress pasta.

2) For the pasta, in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook fusilli until tender. In the last 2 minutes of cooking the pasta, add fresh peas and cook until both are tender. Drain well and place pasta and peas in a large serving bowl. While pasta is still warm toss with prepared sauce. Top pasta with crumbled ricotta cheese and garnish with basil leaves.

Serves 6-8

 

gnocchi

Ricotta Gnocchi in Tomato Sauce

Ingredients
Gnocchi Dough
4 cups ricotta cheese
3 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 cups flour

Tomato Sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 (28oz/796ml) cans diced tomatoes, with liquid
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions
1) Dust 2 baking sheets with flour. Set aside.

2) For the dough, in a large bowl, using your hands or a wooden spoon, combine ricotta, eggs, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Add flour 1 cup at a time to form a soft dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead gently for 2 minutes.

3) Divide the dough into 6 pieces and roll each into a ball. Roll out each ball into 1/2-inch thick ropes. Cut each rope into 1-inch slices and gently place on prepared baking sheets. If not cooking right away, cover and place in refrigerator until ready to use.

4) For the sauce, in a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add carrot and onion, stirring for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Stir in minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste and crushed red pepper flakes, bringing to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and use a hand held or countertop blender to process until smooth. Season with sugar, salt and pepper.

5) To cook gnocchi, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Drop pieces into boiling water and cook until gnocchi rise to the surface, about 2-3 minutes. Remove gnocchi using a slotted spoon and place in a serving bowl. Top with tomato sauce and serve.

Serves 8-10, yielding approximately 120 gnocchi

roasted-veg-pasta-salad

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad with Asiago Cheese

Ingredients
3 medium zucchini, cubed
2 medium red bell peppers, cubed
1 medium yellow pepper, cubed
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

3/4 lb package fusilli pasta
3/4 cup shredded semi-soft Asiago cheese
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp minced fresh oregano
2 tbsp chopped rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes

Directions
1) Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.

2) In a medium bowl, toss zucchini, red peppers, yellow peppers, eggplant, olive oil, salt and pepper. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool slightly.

3) For the pasta, in a large pot, bring lightly salted water to a boil. Cook fusilli until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and place in a large bowl. Add roasted vegetables, Asiago cheese, olive oil, white wine vinegar, oregano and sun-dried tomatoes. Toss well to coat. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate to chill.

Serves 6

risotto

Spinach & Parmesan Risotto

Ingredients
4½- 5½ cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup chopped fennel
1½ cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
½ cup dry white wine
8 cups loosely packed baby spinach, stems removed, chopped
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
1) In a medium saucepan, bring vegetable broth to a simmer over low heat. Keep it warm throughout cook time.

2) In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add onion and fennel, cooking 5 minutes, until softened. Add the rice, stirring constantly to coat. Add wine and continue stirring as the rice absorbs the liquid. Add 1 cup of vegetable broth, stirring frequently until the liquid is absorbed. Once absorbed, add another cup of broth to the rice. Repeat, making sure each addition of liquid is absorbed before adding the next. Continue for 18-20 minutes, until rice is creamy and tender. Once cooked, remove from hear and stir in spinach and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6

puttanesca

Spicy Pasta Puttanesca

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup black olives, pitted and halved
1 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28oz/796ml) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup dry red wine

3/4 lb fettuccini pasta

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions
1) For the sauce, heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook 3-4 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add olives, capers, oregano, salt, crushed red pepper flakes and continue to sauté for 2 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and red wine, bringing to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2) For the pasta, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook until tender. Drain well and return to pot. Toss hot pasta with puttanesca sauce and Parmesan cheese. Top each serving with fresh parsley.

Serves 6