Oodles of Noodles

Classic Italian pasta recipes

Once upon a time, pasta met sauce. And they’ve been together ever since.

Forget Romeo and Juliet; we want to hear about spaghetti and marinara, fettuccine and Alfredo!

And what better time to celebrate this union than March, National Noodle Month?

Now, with the following pasta recipes from the six, recent cookbooks, this classic Italian love story can play out in your kitchen:

Sausage Sauce for Polenta or Pasta
Oven-Baked Pasta Web Extra!
Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi
Sicilian Spaghetti With Sardines Web Extra!
Pasta Primavera
Pasta With Herbed Scallops Web Extra!
Pasta With Forgotten Cheeses
Butterfly Pasta With Ham and Fresh Peas Web Extra!
Fettuccine With a Thousand Herbs
Stuffed Shells Web Extra!
Lasagne From Bologna
Vermicelli With Lemon Web Extra!

“Italian Slow and Savory”

By Joyce Goldstein
Published by Chronicle Books


Sausage Sauce for Polenta or Pasta


4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large, yellow onion, chopped
1/2 pound ground pork
6 sweet sausages with or without fennel, casings removed and meat crumbled
1-1/2 cups Rich Tomato Sauce (see recipe below)
1/2 cup milk or heavy cream, or as needed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Light meat stock if needed
1 pound fresh or dried fettuccine, cooked
Grated Parmesan cheese


In a heavy skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the ground pork and sausage and cook, stirring often to break up the meats, until the meat loses its pink color, about 10 minutes.

Pour in the tomato sauce, reduce the heat to very low, cover and simmer about 1-1/2 hours. As the sauce simmers, add the milk or cream a spoonful or two at a time to prevent scorching.

At this point, the sauce should be thick and the juices should coat a spoon.

Season with salt and pepper. If the sauce is too thick, add a little meat stock to thin.

Toss the sauce with the pasta and pass the cheese at the table.


Makes 6 servings.


Rich Tomato Sauce


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley
5 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground
black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (28 ounce) can plum tomatoes with juice, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter


In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, onion, garlic, parsley and basil and season with salt and pepper. Saute until the vegetables are pale gold, abut 12 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with their juice, stir well, and simmer gently, uncovered, until thickened, about 40 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it evaporates, about 5 minutes.

Adjust the seasoning, and pass the mixture through a food mill if you want a smooth texture. Stir in the butter, if desired.


Makes about 3 cups.

Oven-Baked Pasta


1 pound dried penne, ziti, rigatoni, or other tubular pasta, cooked
3 to 4 cups pasta sauce of choice
1-1/2 cups Basic Cream Sauce (see recipe below)
About 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil or butter a 2-quart gratin dish.

Toss the pasta with the ragu or sauce and spoon into the prepared dish. Spread the cream sauce evenly over the top, and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

Bake until hot and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve directly from the dish.


Basic Cream Sauce


4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk or light cream, heated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg


In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until it is well incorporated with the butter, about 3 minutes. Do not let the mixture color.

Slowly whisk in the hot milk or cream and bring almost to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until the sauce is quite thick and the flour has lost all its raw taste, about 8 minutes.

Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.


Makes 2 generous cups.


“Mediterranean Food & Cooking”

By Jacqueline Clarke and Joanna Farrow
Published by Lorenz Books


Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi


2 pounds fresh spinach
1-1/2 cups ricotta cheese
4 tablespoons freshly grated
Parmesan cheese
3 large eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3 to 4 tablespoons plain flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve


Place the spinach in a large pan and cook 5 minutes, until wilted. Leave to cool, and then squeeze the spinach as dry as possible.

Process in a blender or food processor, and then transfer the spinach to a bowl.

Add the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, eggs and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper and mix together. Add enough flour to make the mixture into a soft dough.

Using your hands, shape the mixture into 3-inch sausage shapes, and then dust them lightly with flour.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Gently slide the gnocchi into the water and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until they float to the surface.

Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a warm dish.

Pour over the melted butter and sprinkle them with Parmesan cheese. Serve at once.


Makes 4 servings.

Sicilian Spaghetti With Sardines


12 fresh sardines, cleaned and boned
1 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup dill sprigs
1/2 cup pine nuts
3 tablespoons raisins, soaked in water
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 pound spaghetti
Plain flour for dusting


Wash the sardines and pat dry on paper towels. Open them out flat, and then cut them in half lengthways.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a pan. Add the onion and fry until golden. Add the dill and cook gently 1 or 2 minutes.

Add the pine nuts and raisins and season with salt.

Dry-fry the breadcrumbs in a frying pan until golden. Set them aside.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling, salted water according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente.

Heat the remaining oil in a pan. Dust the sardines with flour and fry them in the hot oil 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to drain on paper towels.

Drain the spaghetti and return it to the pan. Add the onion mixture and toss well. Transfer the spaghetti mixture to a serving platter and arrange the fried sardines over the top.

Sprinkle with the toasted breadcrumbs and serve immediately.


Makes 4 servings.


“Guilt-Free Italian”

By Anne Sheasby

Published by Southwater


Pasta Primavera

8 ounces thin asparagus spears, chopped in half
4 ounces snowpeas, trimmed
4 ounces baby corn
8 ounces whole baby carrots, trimmed
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
8 scallions, sliced
8 ounces dried torchietti or other pasta shapes
2/3 cup low-fat cottage cheese
2/3 cup low-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 tablespoon snipped, fresh chives
Skim milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Cook the asparagus spears in a saucepan of boiling, salted water 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the snowpeas halfway through the cooking time. Drain and rinse both vegetables under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

Cook the baby corn, carrots, red pepper and scallions in the same way, in a saucepan of boiling, salted water until tender. Drain, rinse and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water according to the package instructions, until tender or al dente. Drain thoroughly and keep hot.

Put the cottage cheese, yogurt, lemon juice, parsley, chives and seasoning into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Thin the sauce with a little milk, if necessary.

Put the sauce into a large saucepan with the cooked pasta and vegetables, heat gently and toss carefully to mix.


Makes 4 servings.

Pasta With Herbed Scallops


1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
12 ounces dried black tagliatelle
12 large fresh scallops
1/4 cup white wine
2/3 cup fish stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lime wedges and fresh parsley sprigs for garnish


To make the sauce, combine the sour cream, mustard, garlic, lime juice, chopped parsley, chives and seasoning in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water according to the package instructions, until tender or al dente. Drain thoroughly and keep hot.

Slice the scallops in half, horizontally. Keep any coral whole.

Put the wine and fish stock into a saucepan and heat to the simmering point. Add the scallops and cook very gently 3 to 4 minutes (but no longer, lest they toughen).

Remove the scallops, place on a plate and keep warm.

Boil the wine and stock to reduce by half, and then add the green sauce to the pan. Heat gently to warm through, stirring, then return the scallops to the pan and cook 1 minute.

Spoon the sauce over the cooked pasta and garnish with lime wedges and fresh parsley sprigs.


Makes 4 servings.


“The Italian Mama’s Kitchen”

By Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi
Published by Thunder Bay Press


Pasta With Forgotten Cheeses


Generous pinch of salt
10 ounces uncooked spaghetti, penne or rigatoni
6 ounces hard cheese (any variety or combination of varieties)
2/3 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
About 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese for garnish


Fill a large saucepan with water. Add the salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Place the pasta in water and boil until al dente.

While the pasta cooks, slice the cheese into small pieces and place them in a large saucepan. Add the cream and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer over low heat.

Add pepper to taste. Simmer, stirring often, until the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Drain the pasta. Stir in the cheese mixture. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with Parmesan cheese and, if desired, more pepper, and serve.


Makes 4 servings.


Butterfly Pasta With Ham and Fresh Peas


2 teaspoons salt
1 cup fresh peas
10 ounces uncooked farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium, yellow onion, chopped finely
3-1/2 ounces prosciutto or cooked ham, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
2/3 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
1 handful fresh basil, torn into small pieces


Fill a small saucepan with water. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the peas and cook until just tender. Drain and set aside.

Fill a large saucepan with water. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the farfalle and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft. Add the peas, ham, cream, pepper and remaining salt if necessary, and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until all the ingredients are heated through.

Drain the pasta. Add it to the pea mixture and gently toss until the farfalle is well coated in the sauce.

Stir in the Parmesan cheese and most of the basil.

Transfer to pasta bowls, garnish with extra Parmesan and the remaining basil and serve.


Makes 4 servings.


“1,000 Italian Recipes”

By Michele Scicolone
Published by Wiley Publishing


Fettuccine With a Thousand Herbs


1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
8 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fresh fettuccine
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
2 medium, ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped


In a bowl large enough to contain all the ingredients, combine the herbs, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Bring at least 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, then the pasta. Stir well.

Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente, tender yet still firm to the bite.

Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water.

Add the pasta to the bowl with the herb mixture and toss well. Add the cheese and toss again.

Scatter the tomatoes over the pasta and serve immediately.


Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Stuffed Shells


About 4 cups of your favorite tomato sauce or ragu
1 (12-ounce) package jumbo shells
2 pounds whole or part-skim ricotta cheese
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, shredded
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh, flat-leaf parsley
1 egg, lightly beaten
Freshly ground black pepper


Prepare the sauce, if necessary.

Bring at least 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, then the pasta. Stir well. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the pasta is about half-cooked, flexible but still very firm.

Drain the pasta and drop it into a large bowl of cold water.

Mix together the ricotta, mozzarella, 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano, the parsley, egg and salt and pepper to taste.

Place a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spoon a thin layer of the sauce into a baking dish large enough to hold the shells in a single layer.

Drain the pasta shells well and pat them dry. Stuff the shells with the cheese mixture and place them side by side in the dish. Spoon on the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmigiano.

Bake the shells 25 to 30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the shells are heated through.


Makes 6 to 8 servings.



By Jeni Wright
Published by Lorenz Books


Lasagne From Bologna


1 quantity Bolognese sauce (see recipe below)
1 cup hot beef stock
12 no-cook dried lasagne sheets
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


For the white sauce
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup plain flour
3-3/4 cups hot milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 375. If the Bolognese sauce is cold, reheat it. Once it’s hot, stir in enough hot beef stock to make it quite runny.

To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan, add the flour and cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the milk, a little at a time, whisking vigorously after each addition. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the sauce is smooth and thick. Add salt and pepper to taste, whisk well to mix, and then remove from the heat.

Spread about a third of the Bolognese sauce over the base of an ovenproof dish.

Cover the Bolognese sauce in the base of the dish with about a quarter of the white sauce, followed by 4 sheets of lasagna.

Repeat the layers twice more, and then cover the top layer of lasagna with the remaining white sauce and sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese evenly over the top.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until the pasta feels tender when pierced with a skewer. Allow the lasagna to stand 10 minutes before serving.


Makes 6 servings.


Bolognese Sauce


2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4-1/2 ounces pancetta or rindless,
streaky bacon, diced
9 ounces lean minced beef
9 ounces lean minced pork
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 (14-ounce) cans chopped plum tomatoes
2-3 cups beef stock
Scant 1/2 cup heavy cream


Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan or saucepan until sizzling. Add the chopped vegetables, garlic and the pancetta or bacon and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.

Add the minced beef and pork, lower the heat and cook gently 10 minutes, stirring frequently and breaking up any lumps in the meat with a wooden spoon.

Stir in salt and pepper to taste, and then add the wine and stir again. Simmer about 5 minutes, or until reduced.

Add the canned tomatoes and 1 cup of the beef stock and bring to a boil. Stir the sauce well, and then lower the heat.

Half cover the pan with a lid and leave it to simmer very gently 2 hours. Stir occasionally and add more stock as it becomes absorbed.

Vermicelli With Lemon


12 ounces dried vermicelli
Juice of 2 large lemons
4 tablespoons butter
Scant cup heavy cream
1-1/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon rind for garnish


Cook the pasta in lightly salted boiling water 8 to 10 minutes, until tender but still firm to the bite.

Meanwhile, pour the lemon juice into a medium saucepan. Add the butter and cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cream reduces slightly.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pan.

Add the grated Parmesan cheese, and then taste the sauce for seasoning and pour it over the pasta.

Toss quickly over a medium heat until the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce, and then divide it among 4 warmed bowls and serve immediately, garnished with lemon rind.


Makes 4 servings.