Use this easy formula to make amazing pasta dishes all winter long

Use this easy formula to make amazing pasta dishes all winter long

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Yes, spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. But for me, pasta is also a great accompaniment to almost any protein, especially in the winter. Even better, by using my four-step pasta formula, I can build all kinds of pasta combinations that start with creative shapes and end with surprises on top. It could not be easier! That is how it works.

Related—30 Creamy Pasta Recipes You’ll Love

Step 1: Choose a pasta form

Choose a shape or style of pasta that works well with the rest of your meal, and plan six ounces of dried pasta to serve two people as an accompaniment. Here is my insider’s guide to matching shapes to pages:

Braiser: pens or cavatappi to catch the sauce or gravy

Light main courses like fish and chicken: pappardelle, which eats lighter than some other forms

Delicious main course like beef or pork: chewy pastas like rigatoni

Related—15 quick and easy pasta recipes with few ingredients

Step 2: Top with butter

Of course, you can use plain butter here, but if you only have three ways to bring flavor to your pasta, get them all to count! To me, it means compound butter. I buy ready-made butter from brands like D’Artagnan, Isola and Kerrygold, or I make my own and store it in small portions in the freezer for convenience. You will need one tablespoon of butter for every six ounces of pasta.

White and black truffle butter for super luxurious taste

Roasted garlic butter for a rustic weight

Black garlic butter for a little sweetness

Porcini butter for an earthy fleshiness

Smoked paprika butter for both color and gentle smoked heat

Step 3: Add an intense flavor boost

This is where you put a delicious flavor in to make your pasta dish sing – an item that packs a small amount. Depending on how intense the flavor is, use between ½ tablespoon and 1½ tablespoon per six ounce of pasta. Use these ideas to get started:

Citrus peel or oil

Caramelized onions

Sun-dried tomato

Crispy bacon or pancetta tarts

Fried capers

And of course grated cheese

A note: With things like citrus peel, start with ½ tbsp. Crispy pancake cubes? 1½ tbsp. Generally, you should start with less; you can always add more.

Step 4: Top with a fresh herb

Do not skip this step! A fresh herbal hit brings both color and fresh flavor to your dish. Think about using these fresh (not dried!) Herbs:

Parsley

Sorrel

Chervil

Rosemary

Chives

And here you can think of pairing with your main course. If you are cooking your stew with thyme, then add fresh thyme to your pasta. If your lamb is marinated with rosemary, add fresh rosemary to your pasta. Assume ½-1 tablespoon chopped fresh herb per. six ounce pasta. More subtle herbs like basil, chives, parsley or chervil you can use more; woody or intense herbs like sage, mint, rosemary or thyme, start with less.

Some delicious pasta combinations

This is about playing and experimenting, but if you want a few to get you started, here are some of my favorite, dinner-tested combinations:

Pappardelle with truffle butter, lemon peel and chives

Cavatappi with porcini butter, pancetta and sage

Penne with toasted garlic butter, parmesan and parsley

Orecchiette with smoked paprika butter, sun-dried tomatoes and basil

Secret Step 5: Crunch!

Want to take this pasta to an even higher place? Add a texture element like toasted nuts or breadcrumbs to crunch.

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