Food & Drink

Easy Pasta, Three Ways

pasta
Chelsea Marotta/Thrillist

There's always at least a couple of boxes of pasta hanging out in the back of my cupboards -- which means there's always food at home, in theory. But even as someone who really likes to cook -- I'm a culinary school graduate with professional restaurant experience who has run a recipe blog for over a decade -- there are some weeks when the delivery man has made multiple visits to my apartment. 

Lately, my kitchen shelves are starting to look like a small Italian grocery store. If you, too find yourself with an abundance of carbs and are looking to move beyond buttered noodles (though there's certainly no shame in eating them meal after meal) or opening up a jar of pasta sauce and calling it a day, here are three easy pasta recipes to add to your repertoire.

Aglio e Olio

Boil 1 pound long pasta (spaghetti is the usual pick) in salted water per the instructions on the box until tender but still with a little bite -- aka al dente for all of my foodie friends out there; do not rinse. Reserve some of the pasta cooking water. 

Meanwhile, heat ⅓ cup of the best olive oil you have in a large skillet over medium-low to medium heat with 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced Goodfellas-style (or minced if that's easier for you), until the garlic just starts to turn golden, 2 to 3 minutes. 

Add ½ teaspoon (or more!) crushed red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds more (and remove from heat if the pasta isn't ready). 

Carefully add the cooked noodles along with ½ cup of the reserved pasta water to the oil; stir until the sauce has thickened and the pasta is coated; you can add more pasta water if the noodles seem extra dry. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. You can sprinkle with some freshly chopped parsley if you have any. Many recipes also include cheese, but some argue it isn't traditional -- I'll let you decide.

Spicy Peanut Noodles

Boil ½ pound of the pasta of your choosing in salted water per the instructions on the box until al dente.

Meanwhile, whisk together ½ cup creamy peanut butter, ¼ cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons sriracha, and 2 tablespoons vinegar (preferably rice wine, but regular distilled white will do) in a large bowl.

Add the cooked pasta directly to the sauce -- get lost in the sauce! -- and toss to combine. You can also throw in some protein and/or veggies if you want to make this a more nutritionally complete meal. I like to sprinkle some chopped peanuts on top for a little crunch.

Alfredo

Yes, you can buy a jar of alfredo sauce from the grocery store, but it's practically just as easy to make it at home. 

For ½ pound of pasta: add 1 cup heavy cream and 5 tablespoons unsalted butter to a pot over medium-high heat and simmer until slightly reduced, 3 to 5 minutes; stir in 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese until melted. 

Toss the sauce with the cooked pasta; add some reserved pasta water if too thick. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Feel free to make it your own by adding some shredded rotisserie chicken, cooked shrimp, or chopped spinach into the mix. Serve with some additional cheese on the side if you like being extra.

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Aaron Hutcherson is a writer, editor, recipe developer, and blogger behind The Hungry Hutch. He's a fan of soul food, whiskey, and intersectionality. Follow his cooking and eating adventures on Instagram and Twitter.