Simple pasta recipes for one
Quick, cheap and easy
If you are living on your own, or are rushed for time, pasta is a fantastic fallback. The basic ingredients are cheap and the end result always ends up tasting great! On the other hand, you can go as wild as you want and foray into the depths of Italian or Asian techniques. Here, I'll include a few basic recipes from my personal arsenal that always hit the spot.
These are my favourites. Not available everywhere, but really good nonetheless.
Pasta con le sarde
Literally "pasta with sardines". Don't knock it 'till you've tried it! The sardines contribute a wonderful richness to the sauce, and the olives strengthen this.
- 1 can of water-packed sardines (I like Brunswick brand the best)
- 4-5 olives, quartered
- 1 cup of canned tomatoes, chopped (with juice)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 of a small-medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 to 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1/4 of a red bell pepper, cut into small pieces
- 3 ounces dried linguine, spaghetti or fettuccine noodles
- Pinch of oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
- Spray with nonstick spray a small sauce pot and heat it on medium
- Add onions and oregano; saute until the onions are translucent (3-5 minutes)
- Add the bell pepper pieces and the chili powder. Saute 2-3 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, tomato juice and tomato paste. Dilute with water to liking.
- Heat another pot of water over high until boiling. Boil pasta to al dente.
- Add sardines and juice (if you want to highlight the flavour of the fish; you can omit this step if you like), as well as olives. GENTLY fold/mix the sauce.
- Add al dente pasta to sauce to finish cooking.
- Serve with salad, Parmesan cheese and fresh pepper.
Parmesan cheese can be expensive if bought individually, but the flavour that it adds is worth it. Plus, it lasts a while, unopened, on the shelf in this form.
Creamy fettuccine and shrimp
This is a simple and rich dish that is absolutely delicious! If you don't feel like using shrimp, use the sauce as a base for peas and bacon or anything you like.
- 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup skim milk (you can use whole milk if you wish)
- 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- A TINY pinch of cloves
- 6-8 medium shrimp, deveined and shelled
- 3 ounces dry fettuccine noodles
- 1/4 cup green sweet peas
- Heat a sauce pot over low-medium heat
- Add butter/margarine and allow to melt. Add flour and stir until thickened.
- Add milk and reduce heat to a lower setting. Stir until incorporated completely.
- Add Parmesan cheese and stir until incorporated. Add shrimp and cloves.
- Boil a pot of water over high heat. Prepare pasta as directed until al dente .
- Add peas to sauce. Add noodles to sauce and stir over low heat for 3-5 more minutes.
- Serve with Parmesan cheese, a salad and pepper.
Pre-prepared lasagna sheets are very handy to have. As in my recipe, you can use them for other types of pasta without having to improvise or make from scratch.
Still, there's nothing like homemade pasta if you have extra time or want to impress. When I was younger, I used a machine similar to this one, and it was great fun.
Mushroom and ricotta cannelloni
Manicotti and cannelloni are often confused. Manicotti are tubes of pasta that are formed as-is, while cannelloni are actually sheets of pasta rolled up after the addition of a filling. This filling is a creamy mixture of ricotta cheese and sauteed vegetables, with mushrooms starring. What's that, you say? Ricotta isn't really cheap? Check again; 300 gram tubs can be had for as little as $3, and you only need half of that for this recipe.
- 1/2 cup of low-fat ricotta cheese (again, the fat content is entirely up to you - light is merely a personal choice)
- 1/4 of a 300 gram package of frozen spinach, chopped
- 3 medium button mushrooms, chopped
- 1/4 inch slice of a medium white onion, chopped
- 1 sheet of lasagna pasta sheet (you can also make your own, if you wish)
- 1/4 cup of skim milk
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- 6 tablespoons of your favourite jarred tomato sauce (you can make fresh, too, if you like - I encourage it if you have extra time!)
- Allow pasta sheet to soften according to package directions.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Heat a small (non-stick coated) sauce pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute for 3 minutes. Add spinach and saute until liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes.
- Add milk and stir. Reduce heat to medium-low; add ricotta and stir until incorporated. Add Parmesan.
- Allow to reduce. Take softened pasta sheets and cut in half (you should have two roughly-square pieces). Spoon filling into both and roll. It's best to do this step in the dish that you plan on baking the pasta with; that way, you avoid a messy transfer.
- Cover with sauce and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Spaghetti with anchovies
Anchovies have been given a terrible reputation as "those annoying things you pick off of pizza". However, they deserve better; they are an excellent flavouring agent when used in moderation.
- 2-3 anchovy fillets
- 2/3 cup of green sweet peas
- 3 ounces spaghetti noodles
- 2 teaspoons of olive oil
- 3-4 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese
- 1 slice of a medium onion, chopped finely
- 1/2 clove of garlic, minced finely
- Prepare pasta according to directions in a large sauce pot
- In a smaller sauce pot, heat 1 teaspoon of oil over low-medium heat. Add onions, garlic and anchovies and saute for 3 minutes.
- Add peas and saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Drain and add pasta to the saute pot. Add cheese and remaining teaspoon of oil. Stir to mix and serve.