A No-Fuss, Pantry-Staple Pasta to Unwind With

November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving is a tiring, albeit delicious, time for a cook. If you hosted the feast, you likely spent many hours in the kitchen this week. You probably don't want to brave the grocery store again, cook anything complicated, or wash a lot of dishes until at least next week.

Not complicated, just pasta. Photo by Posie Harwood

You could, of course, order a pizza and call it a day. But don't rule out a homemade meal just because you're tired of cooking. This is the time to reach for simple and straightforward dishes: Ones that require only pantry staples. Today's recipe, a riff on one I found in the Hunt's tomato paste's archives, doesn't call for any ingredients you likely don't have on hand. It's not earth-shattering. But it is comforting and satisfying and will easily feed a crowd.

Photo by Posie Harwood

Pasta recipes like this might seem almost too simple, but I like the idea of having the structure of a recipe to follow when my brain is overloaded from a busy week. After cooking some pasta, you'll sauté some onions with garlic until they soften and turn a deep, sweet golden brown. You'll add canned tomatoes and tomato paste for a more robust flavor, then some of your pasta cooking water to thicken the sauce. There's grated cheese, too, and chopped fresh parsley. A hefty dollop of sour cream transforms the sauce from ordinary to luxuriously creamy.

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You can add onto this meal easily, too. Top it with a fried egg or leftover roast chicken or serve it over baby spinach. Or enjoy it as is, rounding out the dinner with some of that leftover pumpkin pie.

Posie Harwood is a writer, photographer, and food stylist based in New York. You can read more of her writing here.

What's your favorite non-complicated, post-holiday meal? Let us know in the comments!

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Vanessa
  • Smaug
  • creamtea
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


Vanessa November 27, 2016
I made this last night, except I call it sopa seca.
Smaug November 27, 2016
i continue to be baffled as to why people think that pasta cooking water is going to thicken their sauce- unless the sauce is thinner than the water, it's really not; you're just adding unknown quantities of starch and, probably, salt and/or oil. There's no good reason to thicken a tomato sauce with starch anyway.
creamtea November 27, 2016
Agree with you, Smaug. I gave up doing this. I find it dulls the flavor of the sauce anyway.