Chunky pasta?
November 15, 2007 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Another pasta sauce question but with a few additional requirements...

I'm making a pasta dinner for a few friends on Saturday and I'd like to try something new. I've searched previous questions and found some good suggestions, but am looking for more. I'm trying to satisfy some very different types, so have a few requirements:

The dish must feature either spaghetti or fusilli or penne - no lasagna or tortellini or anything like that (long story, but trust me on this). Also it can contain no meat or seafood. Lastly, it needs to be a sauce that can be poured on top of the pasta right before serving - in other words, not baked with it or anything like that.

I'm looking for something more unique than your basic plain tomato sauce (I love it, but want to do something different this time) or alfredo. I'm thinking something with some 'chunkier' ingredients, like olives or sundried tomatoes or artichokes, that kind of thing. Yes, I have looked at allrecipes and googled and have a few ideas but nothing has really leapt out at me yet except possibly a good vodka sauce. Lastly, while I love a good puttanesca, some of my guests do not like anchovies or capers, so that's out too.

(Oh, and I should add that I'm not a great cook but a good recipe-follower, so exact ingredients/measurements are a big plus!)
posted by widdershins to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
posted by sergeant sandwich at 3:34 PM on November 15, 2007

I suppose you could substitute penne for the cavatelli but really, cavatelli isn't very exotic.
This is enough for about six or eight people depending on how hungry they are.

2 bags frozen cavatelli
6 heads fresh broccoli - just florets
1/4 lb sundried tomatoes, diced (if you have the kind in the oil, save the oil and add in to the dish)
4-5 cloves garlic, sliced (more if you want)
1/2c reserved pasta water
1/2c chicken broth (I use the boxed Swanson or Whole Foods stuff)
1/2c grated parmesan reggiano cheese
1/4c olive oil
dried pepper flakes

Start pot of water for pasta. Add enough salt so that it tastes like a mouthful of ocean water, almost 1/4c. (seriously - this is important, otherwise it will taste bland.) Once boiling, follow directions for pasta, but cook about 2 minutes short of finished. Save 1/2c of pasta water and put aside.

In a large frying pan, saute broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes with olive oil. Once broccoli starts to wilt (5-7 minutes), add in garlic and chicken broth. Continue to stir regularly.

Add pasta into the frying pan with the vegetables, season with salt/pepper/red pepper flakes. Continue cooking until broccoli is done to desired tenderness. If the dish looks too 'dry' add in some of the pasta water and/or more chicken broth. Finish off with the grated cheese.
posted by dancinglamb at 3:40 PM on November 15, 2007

If you haven't seen them already, how about these Mark Bittman recipes?

There's things like pasta with winter squash and tomatoes or zucchini pasta.
posted by needled at 3:51 PM on November 15, 2007

The Epicurious recipe for Fusilli with Gorgonzola and Walnut Sauce is really good. Rich, but good, and definitely different.
posted by cerebus19 at 3:57 PM on November 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

Try Jamie O's...

Pasta Alla Norma

Others options in the sidebar.
posted by brautigan at 4:22 PM on November 15, 2007

"a sauce that can be poured on top of the pasta right before serving"
posted by charlesv at 4:58 PM on November 15, 2007

best tomato sauce ever, provided you are a fan of onions:

two small onions, yellow are best.

cut the onions in half and then slice them about a half a centimetre thick, you want nice long onion strings

cook onions in a little oil over low heat, you want them completely
softened and a little caramelized but not totally brown all over. This will take a half an hour or so. You don't have to stand over them, just make sure they're on low and go stir every five to ten minutes.

mince a few cloves of garlic, and add them to the onions along with some nice sauce-y type herbs like oregano, rosemary, thyme, and basil [or whatever you have and like]

add one big can of crushed or diced tomatoes, depending what you like.

a tablespoon of capers, if you like them
pitted black olives [whole or sliced]
a pinch of red pepper flakes if you like a spicy arrabiata-type sauce
quarter cup of red wine if you have it

it's best if you add all of the above

a teaspoon of marmite, for flavour. [really not optional, this is what makes it taste so rich and delicious]

add some pepper and a bay leaf

simmer for about 20 minutes and then take out the bay leaf.

so tasty, I made it up one night when this was all the food I had in the house and I was starving.

as you can tell I am quite proud of myself.
posted by rhinny at 5:30 PM on November 15, 2007

Last week I wanted something different so experimented with a zucchini/alfredo sauce. I brushed a head of garlic with olive oil and put it in the toaster oven to roast at 475 for 25 minutes or so, then while that was roasting sauteed some onions, oregano and zucchini in butter until they were soft, then let it cool a bit and threw it in the blender with the roasted garlic cloves to make a thick veggie liquid. Then I heated some alfredo sauce from a jar and folded the zucchini mix in after a few minutes.

Delicious over penne pasta. And you get your veggies, too. :) I've since tried it with broccoli and yellow squash, but the zucchini was best. I've found you just need a little bit of the alfredo sauce to make it creamy/cheesy, but you can use more if you prefer a creamier ratio of cheesiness to veggieness.
posted by mediareport at 8:06 PM on November 15, 2007

Best answer: This is my absolute favorite pasta sauce and contains both sundried tomatoes and artichokes so hopefully you'll like it!! I did post it ages ago in this thread -not sure if you've seen the thread or not.

(for 2/3 people)

-In a large pan, fry one/two pressed garlic cloves (depending how much you like!)
-Add 15 or so good quality vine tomatoes, chopped into quarters
-Add one jar of sundried tomatoes, the ones marinated in oil and garlic. Snip them into halves or quarters, depending on how large they are. Also chuck in about half of the oil in the jar, as this is yummy.
-Chop some green chillies (maybe one per person) and add these
-Add a jar/ jar and a half of drained artichoke hearts (I use the ones that come in a can, draining off the brine)
-Finally finish with a couple of handfulls of chopped fresh basil!

The combination of the flavours of the sundried tomatoes, basil and artichokes, with the kick of the chillies is fantastic! I serve it with Penne pasta.
posted by schmoo at 2:16 AM on November 16, 2007

Not a 'sauce' as such, but very tasty and very easy :

Spaghetti with roasted butternut squash.

ingredients (serves 2):
1 butternut squash
1 mild chilli (or more to taste)
1 clove garlic
1 bunch thyme
1 big handful fresh leaves (any of rocket/spinach/watercress or a mix).
lemon juice
olive oil (2 tbsp)

Pre-heat oven to 160C
Peel the squash and remove the seeds. Cut into 1/2" chunks. Place in a roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil. season to taste and add a few sprigs of thyme. Roast in the oven until soft and coloured (around 30 mins).
Chop the chilli and garlic finely.
When the squash is almost ready, add the pasta to boiling water (use a large pot) and heat the olive oil in a frying pan.
When the pasta is ready, fry the chilli and garlic in the oil for 30sec - 1min.
Drain the pasta and return to the pot (without heat). Add the squash, leaves and the oil with the chilli and garlic to the pot and mix together. Squeeze on some lemon juice to taste.
posted by Jakey at 2:17 AM on November 16, 2007

Fettucine with mushrooms, gorgonzola, & ricotta

This is best with fettucine or linguine, but spaghetti would work as well. It's pretty rich.

Garlic, smashed
Olive Oil
Long Pasta
Gorgonzola (either spicy or not, depending on your tastes)
Mushrooms, sliced

The ricotta & gorgonzola should be a 1:1 ratio. We usually use 250 g of each, and a heaping helping of mushrooms (about half a pack of pre-sliced - 100g?). That usually makes enough sausce for 500g of long pasta.

Put enough water in a pot for your pasta, add some salt & set to boil. Note that you'll want to time chucking in the pasta with the astricks below (depending on how long the package says to cook it).

Start to heat the water. In a pan, heat a couple of cloves of garlic and a pepperoncino (small dried chile) in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add in the sliced mushrooms and saute until about halfway cooked.** Over a medium-low heat, melt in the ricotta & gorgonzola. Add a ladle or two of the boiling pasta water & reduce slightly, depending on how thick you want the sauce.

Drain your pasta & toss with the sauce. Serve immediately, as with all creamy sauces, it turns to glue when it's cold.
posted by romakimmy at 5:16 AM on November 16, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you everyone - lots of good stuff here! schmoo, I did see that recipe in the other thread and I think it's the one I'm going to make. Thank you!
posted by widdershins at 9:18 AM on November 16, 2007

Great! Hope you enjoy it -it's delicious!!
posted by schmoo at 6:37 AM on November 17, 2007

Response by poster: schmoo - it was fabulous! I added some Kalamata olives - hope you don't mind... : ) It got raves! Everybody had seconds and the huge pastabowl was empty when we left the table. THANK YOU - it really was delicious.
posted by widdershins at 9:56 AM on November 20, 2007

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