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'I’m a chef and new mum. These 5 easy and impressive pasta recipes never fail me.'

If I could only eat one food every day for the rest of my life, I don’t even need a second before I think: pasta

As a chef with a background predominantly in Italian cuisine, I’m so excited to share my top five pasta recipes that have you covered for everything from a simple weeknight dinner to an impressive dinner party with friends.

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In June 2021 I became a mother, and between parenting and creating recipes and content for my social media accounts, I’ve also become extremely time poor.

To my husband’s delight, these five pastas have frequented our table more than any others since our daughter was born. 

I’m confident you’ll love them as much as I do.

Cacio e Pepe.

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A pasta that blows your mind at an Italian restaurant, and you probably don’t realise you can make it with four ingredients in 15 minutes.

Serves 2

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).

10. Serve.

Spaghetti al Limone

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Buttery lemon pasta in only four ingredients.

Lemon, butter, pasta and its starchy water, lots of Parmesan; they work in perfect harmony and you will not believe how good this dish tastes.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 300g spaghetti
  • 90g lemon juice (about 1½ lemons juiced)
  • Four pieces of lemon rind
  • 150g salted butter
  • ½ cup pasta water
  • 100g finely grated Parmesan, to serve

Method:

1. Use a peeler to shave off four pieces of lemon rind.

2. Prepare a big pot of salted boiling water (it should be as salty as the sea).

3. Cook spaghetti until al dente.

4. Meanwhile, slightly warm a large pan for the pasta and sauce. It should be hot, but not too hot to touch. We aren’t using it to cook but to keep everything warm.

5. Add pasta to the pan straight from the pot.

6. Add lemon juice and rinds, butter, and reserved pasta water.

7. Use a wooden spoon to stir vigorously. The butter will melt into the lemon juice and starchy water, creating an emulsion.

8. Taste and season.

9. Serve topped with *a lot* of finely grated Parmesan.

Spicy Vodka Fusilli

Gigi Hadid made this pasta famous but I’ve been making it for years after lusting over the pasta which the NYC institution Carbone has been dishing up since 2013.

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Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil (30g)
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter (60g)
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
  • 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 (30g) in a large pan over medium heat.

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 30g 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, and stir through Parmesan and basil.

11. Serve.

Amatriciana

One of the best pasta dishes ever. 

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I ate this in Rome at the famed Roscioli and SantoPalato and can honestly say that this tastes just as good. I make it for friends who now request it when they come over, and it’s so quick and easy to make, I happily oblige.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 400g pasta (bucatini & spaghetti work well! As does rigatoni)
  • 200g unsmoked pancetta or guanciale
  • 400-450g tomato passata (puréed tomatoes)
  • 1 hot chilli finely sliced, or 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 60g grated pecorino or Parmesan

Method

1. Prepare your pancetta/guanciale. You want it in lardons just under ½ cm wide.

2. Heat a large pan on medium heat. Fry the pancetta until the fat has melted and sizzled to a golden brown.

3. Add tomato passata and chilli and simmer on low for around 10 mins.

4. Turn off the heat and stir through your pecorino or Parmesan until it is incorporated in the sauce. Set aside until pasta is ready.

5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente. Reserve a cup of the cooking water before straining.

6. Add the pasta to the pan of amatriciana sauce.

7. Add some cooking water to loosen the sauce.

8. Taste the sauce! You can add some chilli or salt - however, the pancetta and cheese add quite a bit of salt so it may not be necessary.

9. Toss the pasta through the sauce and serve with more cheese!

Tomato and Butter Pasta

This tomato and butter pasta is a must try. It’s so easy, it’s both my hangover and dinner party go-to. 

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All in one pot, then puréed until smooth, I love making this for a weeknight dinner, and it’s always on the menu when I’m hosting an Italian dinner party when there’s a vegetarian present.

Serves 3-4

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
  • Parmesan or torn fresh mozzarella, to serve

Method:

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

2. Simmer on very low with the lid slightly ajar for 45 mins - 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.

Tori Falzon is a trained chef and nutritionist turned recipe developer and social media manager. Under her brand 'Into The Sauce', Tori shares her obsessively tried and tested recipes, providing inspiration for everything from weeknight meals to entertaining. Tori’s other skills include finding hacks and efficiency in life and the kitchen, fashion and style, and finding amazing products at the best price. You can follow her on Instagram @intothesauce.

Feature Image: Instagram / @intothesauce.

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