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From fettuccine to penne, the varieties of pastas are limitless.

Pasta is more than just red sauce and meatballs. It can include different meats, cheeses, vegetables and spices to satisfy any and all cravings. From fettuccine to penne, the varieties are limitless. Here are five easy, yet savory, pasta dishes to make for any occasion. 

Pasta Bolognese 

This recipe is perfect for the meat lover. It’s heavy in beef, but the tomatoes, parsley and oregano add a nice kick to blend the flavors. Bolognese is a classic Italian meat sauce, and this dish makes a great dinner for any night of the week. 

Ingredients: 

  • ½ pound spaghetti or fettuccine 

  • 1 pound lean ground beef 

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped 

  • 1 28 ounce can of pureed tomatoes

  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste 

  • 1-2 tablespoons dried oregano 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 handful of freshly chopped parsley

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Grated parmesan cheese for topping (optional) 

Instructions:

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Saute the chopped onions in oil until golden. Throw in the chopped garlic and fry for a minute. 

Place the ground beef in the pan and fully cook for about eight minutes. Pour in the tomato paste and oregano. Stir thoroughly. 

Throw in the parsley and tomatoes, and bring the mixture to a boil. Sprinkle in salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes. 

While the meat sauce is cooking, boil water and cook spaghetti or fettuccine according to package directions. Drain pasta and top with the meat sauce. 

Sausage, Tomato and Arugula Fettuccine

This dish combines meat and veggies nicely, creating a healthy balance. The turkey sausage adds some spice, and the arugula adds a peppery flavor as well. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of fettuccine

  • 6 ounces Italian turkey sausage

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes 

  • 3 cups arugula leaves

  • 2 ounces Romano cheese, shaved 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic 

  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper 

Instructions:

Cook the fettuccine following the directions on the box. Drain the pasta and keep a two-thirds cup of the cooking liquid. 

As the fettuccine is cooking, pour the oil into a large skillet and turn on medium-high heat. Remove skin from the sausage, separate the meat into small chunks and add to the skillet. Cook the sausage until browned while stirring until crumbled. Throw in minced garlic and continue stirring. Pour in pepper and tomatoes, cover the skillet and let cook for two minutes. Crush tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to low and cook for three more minutes.

Turn off the heat, throw in the fettuccine, pour out leftover cooking water and toss in arugula. Mix well. Sprinkle romano cheese on top and transfer the dish to a plate or serving tray. 

Parmesan Garlic Spaghetti 

This dish is a good meatless option for a light and simple meal. It’s quick to whip up after a long day of classes. The parmesan and garlic mix well and create a delicious Italian masterpiece. 

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces spaghetti 

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional 

  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves 

Instructions:

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions and drain well. 

In a medium saucepan, mix the butter, red pepper flakes and garlic over medium heat until the butter fully melts. Whisk thoroughly for four to five minutes until foam goes down and the butter becomes golden brown. 

Remove saucepan from heat. Add in spaghetti and grated parmesan and mix until it’s fully blended. Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Bacon Carbonara Pasta 

Bacon Carbonara is a heavy and creamy dish, and it’s great for bacon lovers. Nothing beats creamy spaghetti when craving some yummy comfort food. The bacon is a good addition to this carb-filled delight.   

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound spaghetti

  • 3 large egg yolks

  • 10 slices of bacon, chopped into small pieces 

  • 1 cup frozen peas

  • 1 cup shaved parmesan 

  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

  • ½ teaspoon salt

Instructions: 

Cook pasta in a large pot following the directions on the package. Save ½ cup of pasta water on the side before draining pasta.

Place the pieces of bacon on a large skillet and cook until crisp. Turn off the heat and remove the bacon from the skillet. Add pasta to the bacon fat. Combine the salt, pepper, parmesan cheese and egg yolks in a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly. Add mixture to skillet. 

Pour in one-fourth of the pasta water and peas, and toss to make a saucy texture. Top with bacon and serve. 

Pasta Primavera

This dish is another great meatless option, perfect for vegetarians. The different vegetables create a colorful masterpiece. The combination of baked vegetables and light pasta is sure to satisfy one’s taste buds. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound bowtie pasta

  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips

  • 2 yellow squash, cut into thin strips

  • 1 large zucchini, cut into thin strips

  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips 

  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

  • 1 onion, thinly sliced

  • 15 cherry tomatoes, halved 

  • ½ cup grated parmesan 

  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs

  • Salt and black pepper 

  • ¼ cup olive oil 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss all vegetables on a large baking sheet and coat with salt, pepper, dried herbs and olive oil. Transfer half of the vegetable mixture to another baking sheet and arrange evenly. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until all vegetables start to brown. 

In the meantime, cook bowtie pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until tender. Drain and save a cup of the cooking liquid. 

Combine pasta with the vegetable mixtures in a large bowl. Throw in the cherry tomatoes and leftover cooking water to moisten the ingredients. Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle parmesan on top and serve. 

Contact Vanessa Nikolic at nikolivx@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.