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Fast fix dinner: Pasta

Diana De Cicco is a food editor and writer based in New York City. She has a master's degree from New York University in Food Studies. Her passions are eating, traveling, and eating while traveling.

Quick pasta recipes

Any night of the week, pasta can be a quick meal that requires little preparation or planning, whether you're after simple or complex flavors Here are some tips and tricks on preparing elegant pasta dishes that taste like they took all day to cook.

Homemade mac and cheese

Tortellini and sausage

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh cheese tortellini
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup diced red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage
  • 1/4 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. Sauté onion, garlic and red pepper in oil until golden. Add the sausage to the pan and sauté until cooked through, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  3. Drain sausage mixture and toss with pasta. Top with butter and cheese; season to taste with salt and pepper.

No-boil macaroni and cheese

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter cubed, plus more for coating pan
  • 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1 pound extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 pound elbow pasta, uncooked
  • 1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375F and grease an 8-inch square pan with butter.
  2. Combine ricotta cheese, mustard and cayenne, and stir until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, then pour in milk, stirring until combined. Add 3/4 of the grated cheese to the ricotta mixture and then toss with pasta.
  3. Spoon pasta into prepared pan and bake 30 minutes covered with aluminum foil.
  4. After 30 minutes, remove aluminum foil. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and breadcrumbs, then dot with butter. Bake another 20 to 25 minutes or until bread crumbs are golden. Let cool before serving.

Slow cooker spaghetti with beef sauce

Makes 10 to 12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 white onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 28-ounce cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 pound fresh spaghetti

Directions:

  1. Saute beef with onions and garlic in a skillet until just browned.
  2. Place beef with onions and garlic in a slow cooker and add chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, wine, basil, oregano and salt. Let cook on low for 4 hours.
  3. Before serving, add spaghetti to slow cooker and let cook for 10 minutes or until al dente.?

More pasta recipes:

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