Warm up a winter day with a pasta dish

This tasty comfort food is easy to make and offers a hearty meal that will fill both body and soul

There’s nothing better — and easier — than a pasta dish as winter’s chill settles in.

After all, the aroma of a pasta dish is enough to make your mouth water.

And, if you’re feeling ambitious, try your hand at making homemade pasta.

To do that, place 2-1/2 cups of semolina, 00 or all-purpose flour in a mound on a large cutting board. Create a good-sized well in the middle of the mound, then crack four large room-temperature eggs into the well. Sprinkle one teaspoon fine sea salt on top and drizzle with one tablespoon olive oil.

Use a fork to whisk the eggs until they are combined, then gradually whisk in some of the flour into the egg mixture. Once the egg mixture is nice and thick, use your hands to fold in the rest of the flour until the dough forms a loose ball. Knead the dough about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic, sprinkling some extra flour on the cutting board if needed to prevent sticking or if the dough seems too wet or sticky.

Form the dough into a ball, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into the desired shape either by hand or using a pasta maker. Cook in a large pot of generously-salted boiling water for one to five minutes, until it is al dente. Drain and use immediately.

When making a pasta dish, consider the right type of noodle for the job. A pasta with ridges holds sauce and cheese, and sturdier sides make for a well-cooked, not soggy or floppy, noodle.

Or instead of a classic elbow macaroni, try a rigatoni, riccioli or rocchetti.

Of course, you can also use zoodles or a pasta made with another vegetable to help make your meal healthier.

If you’re baking your pasta dish, avoid mushy baked pasta by undercooking it when boiling it. Try for a semi-raw texture that’s even firmer than al dente. Because the pasta’s going into a hot sauce in a hot oven, it’ll continue to cook long after it has been drained.

A red sauce is traditional in Italian-American baked pasta dishes, but that doesn’t mean you should stop there. You can try combining a red sauce and a white béchamel for a sauce that’s both bright and rich.

Sauces should be well seasoned but not overly salty, and the noodles should be tasty with an extra-firm bite.

Allow your dish to rest for five to 10 minutes after cooking to give the sauce a chance to settle into the nooks and crannies of your pasta and the entire dish to come together. That’s what you want, isn’t it?

Following are a few pasta recipes from self.com.


Lacinato Kale Pasta With Parmesan

1/2 pound conchiglie pasta

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup Panko Italian style breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed juice

Sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 bunch lacinato kale, stems trimmed and rough chopped

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook to al dente. Reserve pasta water.

Heat a wide, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons butter. When butter has melted and has a nutty fragrance, add breadcrumbs and toast four minutes, until golden. Place breadcrumbs in a small bowl and set aside.

In the same skillet, melt remaining butter. Add kale and a pinch each sea salt and pepper and sauté five minutes, until kale is wilted and supple. Fold in lemon zest and juice, cooked pasta and Parmesan. Add a few tablespoons of pasta water as needed to thin consistency. Top with toasted breadcrumbs, finish with a sprinkle of Parmesan and a pinch of pepper and serve.

Makes four servings.


Whole Wheat Spaghetti with No-Cook Tomato Sauce

1-1/4 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste, optional

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound dried whole wheat spaghetti

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

In a medium bowl, toss together tomatoes, olives, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, anchovy paste and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let sauce sit at room temperature for 15 to 60 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, then drain spaghetti and return it to the pot. Add tomato sauce and 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Toss to combine. Add a little pasta water if the pasta seems too dry. Sprinkle with more Parmesan and fresh basil.


Vegetarian Bolognese

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 large carrots, peeled

2 sticks celery, rinsed

4 tablespoons green olives, stones removed, slightly bruised

1 tablespoon fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, rosemary or marjoram or 1 teaspoon dried

1/2 cup red wine

1/2 cup uncooked beluga lentils or puy, rinsed

1-1/2 cups vegetable stock or water

2 bay leaves

2 14-ounce cans crushed tomatoes

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

To serve:

Cooked vegetarian pasta

Vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese

Fresh parsley

Olive oil

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes. Chop one of the carrots and the celery into 1/2-inch chunks, then add them to the pan along with olives and dried herbs. Let soften a couple minutes, add red wine and let cook several minutes, until the alcohol evaporates. Add lentils, half the vegetable stock, bay leaves, canned tomatoes, fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Grate remaining carrot and add to the mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes, until lentils are cooked, stirring occasionally.

Add the remaining stock or water, little by little, to loosen the sauce when it looks dry. Taste and adjust spices to your preference.

Serve sauce stirred through the pasta, topped with a sprinkling of grated cheese, fresh parsley or other herbs and a drizzle of oil.

Makes four to six servings.


Roasted Garlic Pasta

14 ounces spaghetti

7 ounces vegan yogurt

10 ounces vegan milk

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

4 heaping tablespoons flour

4 garlic heads

Olive oil



Dried rosemary, optional

Boil spaghetti according to package directions.

Cut the upper part of each garlic head, place garlic on aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap garlic bulb, then bake in a 480-degree oven for 40 minutes.

Place roasted garlic, yogurt, milk, nutritional yeast, flour, salt and pepper in a blender. Process until silky smooth.

Pour sauce into a pan and stir continuously until thickened. If it gets too thick, add more milk.

Remove from heat and add the drained spaghetti. Mix well and serve with a drizzle of olive oil on top, some chopped herbs and, if desired, a sprinkle of ground, dry rosemary.

Makes four servings.


Mexican Pasta Bake

12 ounces penne pasta

1 pound chorizo, casings removed

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

2 cups classic mixed frozen vegetables

1-1/2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese

1 cup sour cream

Chopped cilantro

Chopped green onions

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling. Add pasta and cook as directed. Drain and return pasta to pot.

In large skillet, cook chorizo over medium-high heat for eight to 10 minutes, until fully cooked, using side of spoon to break up meat. Drain excess fat.

Add beans, tomato sauce, vegetables, one cup cheese, sour cream and chorizo to pasta and stir until well combined. Pour into greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake in a 350-degree oven 25 minutes, until edges are bubbly. Serve garnished with cilantro and green onions.

Makes six servings.


15-Minute Cheesy Chicken Pasta and Vegetables

8 ounces penne pasta

1 12-ounce package broccoli and cauliflower florets

3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces

1-1/2 cups shredded carrots

4 to 5 green onions, thinly sliced

3 to 5 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves

1 to 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Boil pasta according to package directions in salted water in a large skillet or pot. During the final two to three minutes, add broccoli and cauliflower florets. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.

Return pasta and vegetables to the cooking pot; set aside.

Place olive oil and chicken in a large skillet and cook about three minutes. Add carrots, onions, salt and pepper and cook about five minutes, stirring, until chicken is cooked through and vegetables have softened. Add garlic and cook, stirring, about one minute, until fragrant.

Add chicken and carrot mixture to the large pot with the cooked pasta, broccoli, and cauliflower. Add spinach and cheeses and stir until cheese has melted and spinach has wilted. Taste and check for seasoning, adding additional salt or pepper as needed. Serve immediately.

Makes six servings.


Creamy Salmon Pasta

2 salmon fillets

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for pasta water

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

12 ounces linguine

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 garlic cloves, minced

1-1/4 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

5 ounces baby spinach

2 tablespoons capers

Lemon wedges, for garnish, optional

Place salmon, skin side down, in a small, rimmed baking pan coated with nonstick spray. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake in a 400-degree oven 12 minutes, until salmon is almost opaque throughout and internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.

Salt a pot of boiling water and cook linguine according to package instructions.

Heat butter in large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook one minute, stirring constantly. Add cream, wine, lemon zest and remaining salt and pepper. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, reduce heat to medium and cook five to six minutes, until mixture is thickened to a thin sauce consistency, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low.

Drain linguine and add to skillet. Stir in spinach and capers and cook over low heat one to two minutes, until spinach is just wilted.

Remove salmon from oven. Slip spatula between salmon skin and flesh to remove skin. Break into large chunks over linguine. Serve garnished with lemon wedges, if desired.

Makes four servings.


Brown Butter Butternut Squash Pasta

8 ounces spaghetti

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup fresh French-style breadcrumbs

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups diced butternut squash

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves

1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain well.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and cook three to five minutes, stirring, until browned and toasted. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Melt two tablespoons butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add butternut squash and cook six to eight minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender. Set aside.

Melt remaining butter in skillet over low heat, one tablespoon at a time, until the butter starts to foam. Add garlic, thyme and sage and cook one minute, stirring frequently, until fragrant. Stir in pasta and butternut squash until well combined.

Serve immediately, topped with breadcrumbs, garnished with Parmesan and parsley, if desired.

Makes three servings.


Cajun Chicken Pasta Bake

8 ounces penne pasta

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

4 teaspoons cajun seasoning

1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Parsley for serving, if desired

For sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups milk

Cook pasta per package instructions until al-dente.

Sprinkle cajun seasoning on both sides of the chicken. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and, once hot, add chicken and cook six to seven minutes, flipping halfway through, until fully cooked.

Heat butter in a medium saucepan until melted. Whisk in flour and stir constantly for one minute, making sure it doesn’t burn. Slowly add milk and bring to a simmer, stirring continuously. Simmer two to three minutes, then take off of the heat. Add both cheeses and stir until combined and lump free.

Add pasta and sauce to the skillet with the chicken and toss to coat. Transfer pasta to a greased 13-by-9-inch pan and top with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Bake in a 400-degree oven for five to 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

Serve immediately with fresh chopped parsley for garnish, if desired.


Garlicky Greek Yogurt Pasta With Sautéed Lentils and Chickpeas   

12 ounces spaghetti

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 cup prepared lentils

4 cloves garlic, minced

1-1/2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt

1/4 cup whole milk

Zest of 1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Red pepper flakes, for serving

Bring large pot of salted water to boiling over high heat. Add spaghetti and cook according to package instructions. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta.

In a large high-sided skillet, heat two tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook eight to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until dark golden brown. Add chickpeas and lentils and cook two minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer chickpea mixture to medium bowl and cover to keep warm.

Heat remaining oil in same skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook one minute, stirring constantly. Whisk in yogurt, milk, lemon zest, salt and black pepper. Cook two minutes, until warmed through, whisking constantly.

Add drained pasta and two tablespoons pasta water to yogurt mixture. Toss to combine. If sauce is too thick, add additional pasta water, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.

Divide pasta between four pasta bowls. Divide chickpea mixture over pasta. Serve sprinkled with fresh mint and red pepper flakes, if desired.




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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
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