5 Essential Pastas For Winter

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1. Pasta with Walnut Pesto

Incredibly simple and pretty luxurious. Boil salted water for pasta and cook it, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Meanwhile, puree a cup of walnuts, some Parmesan cheese, a small handful of parsley, a few sage leaves, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a food processor; use just enough olive oil to get a nice, almost smooth consistency. Toss the pasta with the walnut sauce, using some of the reserved cooking water as needed to moisten it. Serve, topped with more freshly grated Parmesan cheese and some chopped parsley.

2. Pasta with Balsamic Onions

Boil salted water for pasta and cook it; meanwhile, in a tablespoon or so of olive oil, sear a couple of sliced onions until nicely browned, stirring almost all the time. Splash some balsamic vinegar over all and sprinkle with salt and lots of black pepper; reduce the heat so the mixture thickens into a sauce. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water; toss the pasta with the onion sauce, adding some of the reserved cooking water as needed to moisten and serve; Parmesan cheese is optional.

3. Pasta with Tomato Tapenade

Crumble some fresh goat cheese over the top of this if you like. Boil salted water for pasta and cook it. Meanwhile, combine a half pound of pitted black olives in food processor with about a handful of drained capers, four or five anchovies, two cloves of garlic, freshly ground black pepper, and olive oil as needed to make a coarse paste. Put the tapenade in a large skillet over medium heat with several canned tomatoes, breaking them up as you cook, and stir until saucy, only a couple of minutes. Toss the pasta with just enough of the tapenade to gently coat the noodles. Serve with cheese if you like, passing any extra sauce at the table.

4. Pasta with Chicken, Frisée and Stilton

Boil salted water for pasta and cook it, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Meanwhile, cut a half pound or more of chicken cutlets into one-inch pieces. Chop an onion and cook it in some olive oil until it begins to soften, then add the chicken; sprinkle with salt and pepper and about a tablespoon of freshly chopped rosemary and cook for about four minutes. Separate a head of frisée. when the chicken is almost cooked through, add the frisée and cook until wilted, just a minute or so. Add the pasta to the chicken mixture, along with a handful of crumbled Stilton or another blue cheese. Add a couple tablespoons of the pasta water if needed to soften the cheese and moisten the sauce. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with toasted walnuts.

5. Pasta with Garbanzo Beans, Sausage, and Arugula

Boil salted water for pasta and cook it, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Meanwhile, remove the casings from a couple of sweet Italian sausages and fry the meat, breaking it up into small pieces, until cooked through. Add a large can of drained, diced tomatoes, a can of drained chickpeas, a tablespoon of crushed fennel seeds, a good pinch of red chile flakes, salt, and pepper. Toss the pasta with a couple handfuls of arugula or another tender green (baby spinach, mizuna, and dandelion are all good) and let it wilt. Add the pasta to the sausage mixture, along with some pasta water if needed to moisten, and serve garnished with chopped parsley.

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