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Maureen Fant, author of the IACP award-winning Sauces and Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way, is here today to share her go-to list of pasta recipes that are one step past the basics. Put on a pot of water, pour yourself a glass of wine, then read on.
After you’ve mastered simple tomato sauce, carbonara, cacio e pepe, puttanesca, arrabbiata, pesto alla genovese, and aglio olio (and if you haven’t mastered them yet, please see me after class), you can further enrich your repertoire with these great next-level essential pasta dishes.
Here are five to commit to memory:
Sugo con il Tonno e il Pomodoro (Canned Tuna and Tomato)
You always have some very good olive-oil-packed tuna and good canned tomatoes or tomato purée in the cupboard, right? (And if not, why not?) This is for when you thought you were going out, but decided to stay in, or for when your best friend came over to help you with your closets and she stays for dinner.
Sagne e Lenticchie (Lentils and Noodles)
It’s technically a soup, but you can make it as dense as you like. Legumes are a natural partner of pasta. Here the lentils are spiced up with only tomato purée assisted by a little onion, garlic, chile, and a bay leaf. You’ll realize you never appreciated the true flavor of lentils before.
Umido di Cipolla (Onions and Tomato)
The richness and depth of this slow-cooked sauce consisting of a lot of onions and a little tomato purée make it the perfect preliminary to roasted or grilled meat. My guests always purr. But it’s also great just to pull out of the freezer and heat when you need comforting.
Ragù di Carne (Meat Sauce)
You didn’t think all meat sauces were made with ground meat, did you? This one gets its meat flavor from a pot roast, which is then served as a separate course or even at a different meal.
Sugo con i Broccoli alla Siciliana (Pasta with Broccoli, Olives and Pistachios)
Broccoli never had it so good. Or cauliflower, which you can use instead. Anchovies, capers, olives, pistachios, and chile provide exoticism and zip.
Recipes excerpted from Sauces and Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way by Oretta Zanini de Vita and Maureen Fant. Copyright © 2013 by Oretta Zanini de Vita and Maureen Fant. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.