food

'I'm a chef and food influencer. Here are 5 easy pasta recipes you have to try.'

It's always pasta season as far as I'm concerned, but in winter it's hard to find a more comforting dinner for a cold night than a bowl of noodles drenched in Parmesan cheese.

I'm a trained chef who spent 90 per cent of my cooking career in Italian kitchens (by no accident). Since having my daughter last year, I've been channeling my creative energy and insatiable appetite for good food into sharing recipes via Instagram and TikTok under my brand Into The Sauce.

As I'm sure every parent can relate to, I became extremely time poor the minute I brought that little baby home, which has steered me towards developing more and more quick and easy recipes (RIP to the old me whose slow cooker had permanent residency on the kitchen bench for regular weeknight dinners).

These five pastas save my soul when I just can't (lots of the time), for when my energy levels have me craving takeaway, but my body knows what it needs is a home-cooked meal.

Vodka Pasta.

Serves: 3-4

Difficulty level: Easy

Chop some shallots and garlic, pick some basil leaves, the rest you just measure out and pour in. A small workload for one of the glossiest, most luxe sauces on the planet. The alcohol in the vodka draws out the flavours of the other ingredients which is what gives it such an incredible depth of flavour.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil (30g)
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter (60g)
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ cup double concentrate tomato paste (I use a full tube of Mutti Tomato Paste Double Concentrate 130g)
  • 2 tbsp vodka
  • 1 cup cooking cream
  • Salt flakes
  • 400g dry pasta (short pasta like fusilli, rigatoni, or shells work well)
  • 30g finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil leaves

Method:

1. Heat oil and ½ of butter in a large pan on medium.

2. Add shallots, garlic and chilli flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent (around 5 minutes).

3. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until the colour deepens (around 5 minutes).

4. Add vodka and stir constantly until the liquid has mostly evaporated (around 2 minutes).

5. Add cream and stir until incorporated.

6. Season with a good pinch of salt and remove from heat.

7. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking liquid.

8. Drain pasta and add to sauce with remaining butter and ½ cup of pasta cooking liquid.

9. Heat over medium-low, stirring constantly, until butter is incorporated and sauce is glossy (around 2 minutes). Add more pasta water if sauce is too thick.

10. Taste and season with salt, stir through Parmesan and basil, and serve.

Chilli Prawn Rosé.

Serves: 3-4

Difficulty level: Easy

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This is definitely one of those pastas that you'd eat at a restaurant or friend's house and immediately assume is difficult, just because of how good it tastes. I've had friends, family and followers share with me how surprisingly simple they've found making it, and that it's become a staple in their home. Another friend has threatened to cheat on their vegetarianism for lust over this pasta.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 large shallots, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 red chilli, seeds removed, halved lengthways and sliced
  • 350ml tomato passata
  • 150ml creme fraiche
  • 300g pasta (I recommend fettuccine, linguine, spaghetti or spirals)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g peeled and deveined King prawn meat, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

Method:

1. Prepare a pot of salted, boiling water for your pasta.

2. Melt butter over medium heat and sauté shallots, garlic and chilli until shallots are softened and translucent.

3. Add tomato passata and simmer on low until half the liquid remains (5-10 minutes).

4. Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente, reserving one cup of pasta water.

5. In another fry pan, heat olive oil over medium heat, add prawns and sizzle until just cooked (1-2 minutes).

6. Add prawns and creme fraiche to tomato sauce, stir until combined, taste and season.

8. Drain pasta directly into the sauce, adding reserved pasta water, bit by bit, to loosen the sauce until it’s silky and smooth.

9. Toss through parsley and serve topped with more fresh parsley.

Tomato Butter Pasta.

Serves: 3-4

Difficulty level: Easy

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If you own a stick blender or a Thermomix, this might just be your next favourite easy pasta. No chopping onions required, everything thrown in the pot, simmered and then blended. What you end up with is a silky sauce, a shock that you've never made a buttery tomato sauce before, and very impressed diners.

Ingredients:

  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 100g butter
  • 1 Parmesan rind
  • 2 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 sprig basil, leaves picked
  • 350g dried pasta
  • 2 x 125g balls of fresh mozzarella, to serve

Method:

1. For the tomato sauce, add tomatoes, butter, Parmesan rind, shallots, and garlic to a saucepan.

2. Simmer on very low with the lid slightly ajar for 45 mins to 1 hour, until sauce has thickened slightly and is glossy and flavourful.

3. Remove Parmesan rind, and use an immersion blender to blend until very smooth. Taste and season.

4. Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente in plenty of salted boiling water.

5. Add pasta and basil leaves to sauce, stir to incorporate.

6. Serve topped with fresh Mozzarella.

Cacio e Pepe.

Serves: 2

Difficulty level: Easy

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One of the simplest pastas I've ever made, it's guaranteed to be on the table in 15 minutes. The most labour-intensive part about it is the grating of the cheese, there's no other kitchen prep required!

Ingredients:

  • 200g pasta (bucatini or spaghetti)
  • 100g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 10g finely grated Parmesan
  • 20g finely grated Pecorino
  • Extra Parmesan or Pecorino, to serve

Method:

1. Bring to boil a pot of salted water.

2. Add pasta and cook until al dente.

3. Melt ½ of the butter (50g) in a large pan over medium heat.

4. Add pepper and cook ('bloom') until fragrant and toasted.

5. Use tongs to pull pasta into the pan (this way you are reserving all the pasta water), then add ½ cup pasta water.

6. Using a wooden spoon, stir the pasta, using the pasta as a whisk to emulsify the butter and pasta water into a sauce.

7. Turn off the heat and add remaining butter, tossing it through the sauce.

8. Very gradually add grated cheese, tossing bit by bit, until butter and cheese melts into the sauce. The key is adding the cheese gradually, so it emulsifies instead of clumping together (this will ruin the sauce.)

9. Taste and season, adding more pasta water to thin it out nicely (as the sauce cools it will thicken, so I usually add slightly more pasta water than it appears to need in the hot pan). Then serve!

Pancetta and Mushroom Rosé.

Serves: 3-4

Difficulty level: Easy

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This pasta has not amassed over 5 million views on TikTok for nothing. It's easy to throw together, hard to mess up, and will have you craving more minutes after you've put your bowl in the sink and sworn you're not having another serving.

Ingredients: 

  • 100g unsmoked pancetta (or bacon), thinly sliced into 1.5cm pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely sliced, chopped or grated
  • 200g Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 80g double concentrate tomato paste
  • ¾ cup cream
  • 300g short pasta, such as fusilli, orechiette or rigatoni
  • 1 bunch broccolini, sliced in 2cm pieces
  • 1 bunch chives, finely chopped
  • Parmesan, to serve

Method:

1. Prepare a pot of salted, boiling water for your pasta.

2. Heat a large fry pan over medium heat for the sauce.

3. Fry pancetta (or bacon) in the pan until golden and crispy, then use a slotted spoon or spatula to remove into a bowl (leave the rendered pancetta fat in the pan).

4. Add olive oil and unsalted butter to pan.

5. Once butter has melted, add chilli flakes, shallots and garlic (with a big pinch of salt) and sauté until translucent.

6. Add mushrooms and sauté until brown and softened.

7. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until colour has deepened (about 2 mins).

8. Add cream and stir until combined.

9. Add pancetta and chives to sauce, and continue to simmer on very low.

10. Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente. In the last two minutes of cooking, add broccolini. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.

11. Strain pasta and broccolini, add to the sauce and stir to combine.

12. Loosen the sauce up with some reserved pasta water.

13. Taste and season, then serve with Parmesan and go to heaven.

Feature Image: Instagram @intothesauce.

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