Pasta e Fagioli

170g dried borlotti
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
A sprig of fresh rosemary
300-500g fresh tomatoes
Salt and black pepper
180g fresh egg pasta, cut into small, misshapen squares or 220g dried small pasta, or broken tagliatelle

If you are using dried beans, soak them for 12 hours or overnight. Drain, cover them with enough cold water that it comes at least 3 inches/10cm above the beans and cook at a simmer until tender, which usually takes about an hour and a half. Leave the beans to cool in their cooking liquid.
If you are using fresh beans, pod them, then cover them with enough cold water that it comes at least 10cm above the beans. Bring to a very gentle boil and then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes or until the beans are tender. Leave the beans to cool in their cooking liquid. If you are using tinned beans, drain and rinse them.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep sauté pan or casserole, warm the olive oil over a low flame, add the peeled and gently crushed garlic cloves and rosemary, then fry them gently until fragrant. If desired, you can remove the garlic at this point. Peel the tomatoes, if you like, then roughly chop them and add them to the pan. Raise the heat just a little and cook the tomatoes for 10 minutes, or until soft and saucy. Add the beans and a couple generous ladlefuls of bean cooking water, then let the pan bubble away for another 10-15 minutes. Season with salt. At this point you may like to blend half the soup for a creamier consistency.

Add another couple of ladlefuls of bean cooking water and then the pasta. Continue cooking, stirring attentively until the pasta is tender. You may need to add a little more bean cooking water. Serve immediately.

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

2 slices of day-old bread (about 50g), crusts removed
A little milk
500g minced beef
2 eggs, lightly beaten
A small garlic clove
A sprig of parsley
Salt and black pepper

For the sauce
750g ripe, fresh tomatoes
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1–2 garlic cloves, peeled or crushed
A pinch of red chilli flakes (optional)
A tin of peeled plum tomatoes, chopped roughly in the tin
1 tbsp tomato puree (optional)
Salt

Rip the bread and soak in a little milk until soft, and easily crumbled. Squeeze out excess milk. Put the crumbs in a large bowl along with the beef and lightly beaten eggs.

Peel and chop the garlic very finely along with the parsley, salt and pepper. Add to the meat, then use your hands to mix everything together.

Divide the mixture into 12 meatballs: if the mixture is very sticky, flour your hands lightly. Let the meatballs rest.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Peel the fresh tomatoes by plunging them first in boiling water, then in cold, at which point the skins should slip off. Then chop them roughly.

Peel the garlic and crush for a milder flavour or finely chop for stronger. Put 4 tbsp of the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan or cassarole and cook the garlic gently over a low heat until it is fragrant. At this point you can remove the whole garlic if you wish.

Add the chopped tomatoes and chilli. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the final 2 tbsp oil and the tinned tomatoes. Add 1 tbsp tomato puree if you feel it needs it. Cook for 20–40 minutes, or until the sauce is rich and thick.

Drop the meatballs in the sauce, making sure they are submerged. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and poach for 15 minutes, by which time the meatballs should be cooked through but still tender.

Pasta e Piselli

1.3kg peas in their pods, or 350g frozen
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
A small knob of butter or 50g pancetta or guanciale, diced
3 large or 6 small spring onions, chopped
A celery stalk, chopped
A sprig of mint
Salt
1 tbsp tomato puree (optional)
A parmesan rind
300g fresh egg pasta or 200g dried pasta
Pecorino or parmesan cheese, grated

If the peas are in their pods, pod them and set aside. Warm the olive oil in a large pan and fry the pancetta, onion, celery and mint with a pinch of salt, until soft and translucent. Stir in the tomato puree, if using, then add the peas, stir and cook for a few minutes.

Add 1.3 litres of cold water and the parmesan rind. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.

Once the peas are tender, remove the mint, add another small pinch of salt and the pasta. Cook, stirring regularly, until the pasta is al dente. Leave to sit for a couple of minutes, stir in 2 tbsp grated cheese, taste and check for salt (it shouldn’t need it). Divide between bowls and serve, handing round more cheese for those who want it.

Pasta with Eggplant

2 large aubergines
Olive or groundnut oil, for frying
1kg fresh tomatoes or 500g passata
2 garlic cloves
A small handful of basil
1 tsp sugar (if you need it)
500g pasta, such as spaghetti, rigatoni, casarecce, mezze maniche or penne
200g salted ricotta, grated
Salt

Peel strips of skin from the aubergines so they are striped, then cut them into 5mm slices. If you’re going to salt them, do it now; otherwise just dry them with a clean tea towel. Heat about 5cm oil in a frying pan and fry the slices, turning them halfway, until they are golden brown on both sides, then drain on kitchen paper. Set aside, near the stove so they keep warmish.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil. If using fresh tomatoes, peel by plunging them into boiling water for 1 minute, then lift them out with a slotted spoon and cool under cold water, at which point the skins should slip away. Keep the hot water for cooking the pasta later. Roughly chop the tomatoes, removing the seeds if you wish (I don’t).

Crush the garlic cloves with the back of a knife, so they split, but remain whole. Warm some more oil in a frying pan and add the garlic. Once fragrant and lightly golden, remove from the pan, add the tomatoes (or passata) and cook until they collapse into a sauce. You can pass the tomatoes through a food mill back into the pan or, if you’re happy with the texture, simply tear in most of the basil, add the sugar if you think the sauce is too sharp, and a good pinch of salt.

Bring the pan of tomato water back to the boil, add salt, stir well and add the pasta. Cook it until al dente, then drain. Mix the pasta with the sauce and a handful of ricotta. Divide between bowls, top with several slices of aubergine, plus a little more salted ricotta and a couple more basil leaves. Pass around the remaining aubergine slices and cheese, so that people can help themselves.

Quick Sesame Noodles (Single Serving)

4 oz. fresh wheat noodles (or 1 serving of dried noodles)
1/2 tablespoon sesame paste / tahini
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1-2 teaspoons rice vinegar (optional to taste)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
5 tablespoons hot water (or braised meat sauce)
A small handful of chopped scallion
Chili oil (optional)

Cook the noodles according to the package instructions.

While the noodles are cooking, make the sauce by mixing together the sesame paste, peanut butter, light soy sauce, rice vinegar (optional), vegetable oil, sugar, and water. Stir in one direction until it turns into a smooth, even paste.

Once the noodles are cooked, drain them and toss with the prepared sauce, chopped scallions, and chili oil (if desired).

Pasta con Ceci

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 tablespoons good tomato paste
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup uncooked ditalini pasta (or another small shape, like macaroni)
2 cups boiling water
Crushed red pepper flakes, for serving

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil until it shimmers.

Add the garlic and cook, stirring until it becomes lightly browned and fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste and salt and fry for 30 seconds or so.

Add the chickpeas, pasta, and boiling water. Stir to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot, lower the heat, and simmer until the pasta is cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

To serve, ladle the pasta into shallow bowls, sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes, and drizzle a bit of extra-virgin olive oil on top.

Bucatini Cacio e Pepe

1 pound dried bucatini pasta
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for garnish
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt, to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the bucatini and cook until just al dente, 8 to 9 minutes. Drain, reserving 1¼ cup of pasta water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, toast the ground pepper over medium heat until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter and the olive oil, and cook until the butter has melted, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the drained pasta, 1 cup of the reserved pasta water, the grated Parmesan and Pecorino Romano. Toss to coat the pasta well and season with salt. Add the remaining ¼ cup of reserved pasta water and tablespoon of butter, tossing to incorporate. Transfer to a platter and garnish with ground pepper and Pecorino Romano cheese. Then serve.

Pasta alla Norma

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
Salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Pinch of crushed red pepper
12 basil leaves, plus a few basil sprigs for garnish
4 cups peeled, chopped tomatoes with juice, fresh or canned
3 or 4 small eggplants (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound pasta, such as penne, rigatoncini or spaghetti
1 cup coarsely grated ricotta salata
1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs, preferably homemade

Make a quick tomato sauce: Put 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.

Stir in garlic, red pepper and basil leaves and cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, stir and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and let sauce simmer gently for 20 minutes, until slightly thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside. (Sauce may be prepared up to 2 days in advance.)

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Turn heat to low and cover pot until it’s time to cook the pasta.

Put a wide cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add 4 tablespoons olive oil to coat surface of pan. When oil is wavy, test by adding a cube of eggplant. It should begin to sizzle and brown immediately. Fill the pan with a single layer of eggplant cubes. Turn eggplant with a spatula or tongs and brown nicely on all sides. Lower heat as necessary to maintain an even temperature; if the pan is too hot, the eggplant will burn.

Remove cooked eggplant to a plate and continue to fry remaining eggplant in batches, adding more oil as necessary. Season finished eggplant with salt and pepper. (Alternatively, roast the eggplant on a baking sheet at 400 degrees, lightly drizzled with oil, until cooked and nicely browned, about 20 minutes.)
To assemble and serve, boil pasta until al dente, leaving it a little firmer than normal. Bring the tomato sauce to a simmer. Add eggplant to sauce and gently stir to combine. Reserve a cup of pasta cooking water, then drain pasta and add to sauce. Using 2 wooden spoons or tongs, toss pasta and sauce, and let cook 1 minute more. Thin sauce if necessary with a little pasta cooking water.

Transfer to a warmed wide pasta bowl. Sprinkle with grated ricotta salata and bread crumbs. Garnish with torn or whole basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.

Bucatini all’Amatriciana

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 pound guanciale, in 1-inch slivers 1/4 -inch thick
3 cups canned San Marzano tomatoes (about a 28-ounce can)
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes, or to taste
Salt
1/4 cup grated aged pecorino cheese, more for serving
1 pound bucatini

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet. Add onion and garlic, and sauté over medium heat until transparent. Add guanciale and sauté until barely beginning to brown.

Break up tomatoes and add. Cook about 15 minutes, crushing tomatoes with a spoon, until sauce has become somewhat concentrated and homogenized. Season with chili and salt and stir in 1 tablespoon cheese. Remove from heat.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add bucatini and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain and transfer to skillet. Gently reheat contents of skillet, folding pasta and tomato sauce together until they are heated through and pasta is well-coated, about 5 minutes. Fold in remaining cheese. Check seasoning and serve with more cheese on the side.

Ramps Pesto

7 ounces (200g) bear’s garlic, trimmed of tough stems (about 4 cups roughly chopped), or ramps, wild garlic, or green garlic
1/3 – 1/2 cup (35-60g) shelled pistachios
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
1/2 cup (125ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (25g) grated Parmesan
1/4 cup (20g) soft grating cheese, such as Emmental or Gouda

In a mortar and pestle, start mashing the chopped bear’s garlic in batches, along with the pistachios and salt. (Using the larger quantity of pistachios will make it thicker.) Continue adding the bear’s garlic, until it’s all incorporated. Dribble some of the olive oil in along the way, to create an emulsion.
(You can also make this in a blender or food processor, pureeing all the ingredients together, until relatively smooth.)

Add remaining olive oil to the bear’s garlic mixture (if using a mortar and pestle), then pound in the two types of cheese. Taste, and add additional salt, if necessary.

If the pesto is very thick, it can be thinned with additional olive oil or a bit of tepid water. I often leave it thick, and if tossing it with warm, just-cooked pasta, will add additional olive oil to the pesto-slicked pasta at the last minute, to get it to the desired consistency.

Storage: The pesto will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Unlike basil pesto, this will not discolor quickly. The pesto can be frozen for up to two months.

Makes 1 1/2 cups (375ml)

This recipe makes enough to coat four portions of pasta (starting with 1 pound/450g) of dried pasta.

Also great swirled into soup (such as Soupe au pistou or Potato-Leek soup), spread on toasted bread with fresh or aged goat cheese, or smeared between the bread, along with the cheese, then grilled.

Try with pasta tossed with spring vegetables, such as freshly steamed asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces, and fava beans the other night, which was heaven.

Although it’s perfect tossed with pasta, just on its own. As mentioned, if you use something other than bear’s garlic (such as ramps, wild garlic, or green garlic) you may need to adjust quantities.

Feel free to swap out almonds or pumpkin seeds for the pistachios.

Pressure Cooked Ragu Bolognese

1 cup (225 milliliters) homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
4 packets powdered gelatin (1 ounce/30 grams)
2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound (225 grams) finely diced pancetta
1 large onion, finely minced (about 1 1/2 cups/300 grams)
2 large carrots, finely chopped (about 1 cup/200 grams)
2 large stalks celery, finely chopped (about 1 cup/200 grams)
4 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons/15 grams)
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, minced (about 1/4 ounce/8 grams)
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced (about 1/2 ounce/15 grams), divided
1/2 pound (225 grams) finely minced chicken livers
2 pounds (900 grams) ground beef chuck (about 20% fat)
1 pound (450 grams) ground pork shoulder (about 20% fat)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (450 milliliters) dry red wine
1 (14-ounce/400-gram) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
1 1/2 cups (350 milliliters) heavy cream, divided
2 bay leaves
3 ounces (80 grams) finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 milliliters) Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, minced (about 1/4 ounce/8 grams)
To Serve:
1 1/2 pounds (700 grams) pappardelle or tagliatelle, or 1 pound (450 grams) dried penne
Finely grated Parmesan cheese

Place stock in a 1-cup liquid measure and sprinkle with gelatin. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a pressure cooker over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until pancetta is browned and crisp, about 12 minutes. Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, sage, and half of parsley and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 8 minutes.

Increase heat to high, add chicken livers, and cook, stirring, until livers are no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add beef and pork, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring and breaking up meat with a wooden spoon or a potato masher, until meat is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until excess liquid has evaporated and the meat starts to sizzle, about 25 minutes.

Add stock and gelatin mixture, wine, tomatoes, 1 cup heavy cream, and bay leaves. Seal and cook at high pressure (12 to 15 psi) for 30 minutes. Release pressure and remove lid. Simmer over moderate heat until thick and emulsified, 30 to 45 minutes longer.

Stir in remaining 1/2 cup heavy cream, Parmesan, fish sauce, basil, and remaining parsley. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to emulsify. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bolognese can be cooled and stored in sealed containers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

To Serve: Heat Bolognese in a large pot until just simmering. Set aside. Cook pasta in a large pot of well-salted water until just barely al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking liquid. Transfer to a large skillet or sauteuse and add 3/4 of sauce, along with cooking water. Cook over high heat, tossing and stirring gently, until sauce is thick and pasta is coated, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with remaining sauce. Serve immediately, passing extra Parmesan at the table.

Shiso Pesto

2 ounces green shiso leaves (japanese perilla)
1 ounces Grated pecorino romano
1 teaspoon Kosher salt (halve if using regular salt)
1/2 cup Olive oil
1 tablespoon
Lime juice (from 1/2 a lime)
8 ounces
Linguine (cooked according to package directions) handful
Pine nuts or coco nibs, toasted 1 ounce
Uni (optional)

Put the shiso, cheese, salt, olive oil, and lime juice, in a blender or the work-bowl of a food processor and whirl it around until it’s a fine green puree.

Boil the pasta according to the package directions in generously salted water. When the pasta is done, strain it well and toss it in a bowl adding the pesto a bit at a time until it reaches your desired level of flavor.

Plate the pasta and top with toasted pine nuts or coco nibs.

You can also add some uni or ikura on top for some extra color and brine.
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Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup

Neutral cooking oil, such as canola
1 pound bulk hot or mild Italian sausage
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 to 3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine (or substitute chicken stock)
1 (28-ounce) can whole, peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Parmesan rind (or a small hunk of cheese), optional
1 (9- or 12-ounce package) fresh or frozen tortellini (see Recipe Notes)
2 cups roughly chopped spinach
Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes, to taste
Shaved Parmesan and extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

Drizzle a tablespoon or two of oil into a large Dutch oven and place over medium-high heat until shimmery and sizzling hot. Add the Italian sausage (do not break it up yet) and sear until golden-brown on one side, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and sear the other side, another 2 to 3 minutes. Once the sausage is lightly browned on both sides, start aggressively breaking it up with wooden spoon. (The goal is to get some delicious caramelization in the bottom of the pan as opposed to just steaming the ground meat in its own liquids.) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to another bowl, leaving the fat in the pot.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions and a big pinch of salt. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 15 to 20 seconds, just until you start to smell its aroma. Add the red wine and increase the temperature to high. Allow the liquid to cook out at a raucous boil, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to release any delicious brown bits as it bubbles.

Add the canned tomatoes and juices to the pot. Then use kitchen shears to cut the tomatoes into bite-sized chunks. Add the chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, Parmesan rind, and cooked sausage. Season with kosher salt — start with about a 1/4 teaspoon — and freshly ground black pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil and add the tortellini. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tortellini is warmed through, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the spinach to the pot and stir until wilted. Taste and adjust seasoning. (Remove Parmesan rind if used.) Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil and a dusting of shaved Parmesan.

For an easy side, use any leftover spinach to make a salad with your favorite vinaigrette, and add some frozen garlic bread if desired. Leftovers keep getting better; reheat with additional chicken stock or water, as needed.

Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil

Fine sea salt
12 ounces dry orecchiette or farfalle
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 bunch scallions (about 8), trimmed and thinly sliced (keep the whites and greens separate)
2 large ears corn, shucked and kernels removed (2 cups kernels)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, more for serving
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, more to taste
1/3 cup torn basil or mint, more for garnish
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
Fresh lemon juice, as needed

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until 1 minute shy of al dente, according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large sauté pan over medium heat; add scallion whites and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, 3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water and all but 1/4 cup corn; simmer until corn is heated through and almost tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, transfer to a blender, and purée mixture until smooth, adding a little extra water if needed to get a thick but pourable texture.

Heat the same skillet over high heat. Add butter and let melt. Add reserved 1/4 cup corn and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. (It’s O.K. if the butter browns; that deepens the flavor.) Add the corn purée and cook for 30 seconds to heat and combine the flavors.
Reduce heat to medium. Add pasta and half the reserved pasta cooking water, tossing to coat. Cook for 1 minute, then add a little more of the pasta cooking water if the mixture seems too thick. Stir in 1/4 cup of the scallion greens, the Parmesan, the herbs, the red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice to taste. Transfer to warm pasta bowls and garnish with more scallions, herbs, a drizzle of olive oil and black pepper.

Fregola Soup with Rosemary

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 tablespoons tomato paste or puree
8 cups beef stock
2 small rosemary sprigs
2 cups (235 grams) fregola
salt
2 cups (225 grams) grated pecorino sardo

Heat the 4 tbsp olive oil and shallots in a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot placed over medium heat. Sauté, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the shallots are slightly softened.

In a small bowl, stir the tomato paste/puree with a splash or “two of the broth to dilute. Stir the mixture into the shallots. Pour the remaining broth into the pot and add the rosemary. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Gently pour in the fregola, stirring with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula as you pour. Cover partially and let the soup boil for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the fregola is al dente and the broth has thickened. Taste and add salt, if you like.

Remove from the heat and stir in half the cheese. Ladle the soup into warmed shallow, rimmed bowls and top with the remaining cheese, adding a little mound to each bowl. Drizzle a little olive oil over the surface of the soup. Serve immediately.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces extra sharp cheddar, coarsely grated
12 ounces Swiss cheese, coarsely grated (or substitute sharp cheddar or smoked Gouda)
1 pound elbow pasta, cooked al dente
Pinch of cayenne
Salt
2/3 cup whole milk

Heat oven to 375. Heavily butter a medium baking dish. Combine cheeses and set aside 2 cups.

In a large bowl, toss pasta, remaining cheese, cayenne, and salt to taste. Place in pan and pour over milk. Sprinkle reserved cheeses on top.

Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, until bubbly.

Pasta e Lenticchie

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 thyme sprigs
1 fresh bay leaf
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
5 cups water
8 ounces short tubular pasta (such as ziti, trenne or rigatoni)
1/3 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Grated Parmesan, for serving

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrot, and cook, stirring often until soft but not brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper, and add the lentils, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf and red pepper flakes. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer with the lid slightly ajar, until the lentils are tender, 40 to 45 minutes.

Bring the lentils to a boil and add the pasta and milk. Cook, uncovered, stirring often so that the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom, until the pasta is al dente and the liquid has reduced to a creamy, ragù-like sauce, 10 to 12 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.

Divide the pasta among serving bowls and garnish with the parsley, Parmesan and more olive oil.

Six One-Pot Pasta Ideas

Orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe: Brown the sausage first, then add the rest of the ingredients: pasta, water, broccoli rabe, olive oil, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes. Finish with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Rotelle (or cavatelli, or mini conchiglie) with corn, shallots, lemon zest, butter, salt and pepper. Finish with mascarpone, tarragon, and basil.

Spaghetti alle vongole: Start with spaghetti, garlic, chopped fresh chiles, olive oil, salt and pepper, sprigs of parsley (remove them later, as with basil in the original recipe). Add clams a few minutes before the end of cooking, then finish with chopped parsley, lemon juice, and additional olive oil.

Rigatoni (or rigatoni corti, or casarecci), balsamic vinegar, capers, olive oil, eggplant, garlic, salt, and pepper. Finish with mozzarella or ricotta salata, toasted pine nuts, parsley, and Parmesan.

Cacio e Pepe: Pasta, water, salt, and cracked black pepper, and grated Pecorino. Some would add butter, too. Finish with additional Pecorino.

Bolognese: Brown off the meat first, then add wine to deglaze and the rest of ingredients—carrots, onions, and celery (all minced super finely in a food processor), sprigs of thyme, bay leaf, a can of tomatoes (or keep it white and add milk), salt and pepper, a Parmesan rind.

One-Pot Chili Mac

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
8 ounces ground beef
4 cups chicken broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup canned white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
10 ounces uncooked elbows pasta
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add garlic, onion and ground beef, and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef as it cooks; drain excess fat.

Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes, beans, chili powder and cumin; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a simmer and stir in pasta. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked through, about 13-15 minutes.

Remove from heat. Top with cheese and cover until melted, about 2 minutes.

Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.

One-Pot Pasta with Chicken and Red Peppers

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1.5 lbs chicken breast, cut into small chunks
2 large roasted red peppers, sliced into thin strips
6 hot cherry peppers, chopped and deseeded
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup cooking sherry or white wine
1 cup water
1 lb Rigatoni
1 cup pecorino romano or parmesan cheese
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Crushed red pepper flakes, optional

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add in the garlic and chicken. Sauté the chicken until it is just browned on the outside but not cooked through.

Stir in the roasted red peppers and hot cherry peppers, and sauté for a minute. Add in the crushed tomatoes and sherry or wine. Add in the water and pasta and bring to a low boil. (If there isn’t enough liquid, add a bit more water.) Continue to cook, stirring often, until the pasta has cooked to al dente, about 15-20 minutes.

Reduce to low heat and add in the butter, basil, and salt. When the butter completely melts into the pasta, add in the cream and cheese. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Top with additional cheese, basil, and red pepper flakes if you really like a lot of heat!

Serve warm.