Easy Pasta Dishes from the Pantry

Kale, Cashew and Fresh Herb Pesto livens up a box of dried pasta. Add fresh cherry tomatoes and mozzarella for a satisfying dinner.

A good pasta dish transforms everyday ingredients into something extraordinary for any day of the week. These three pasta recipes from Whisk in Waverly Place deliver big on flavor and satisfaction!

Kale, cashews and herbs make for a delicious and hearty pesto that livens up any dried pasta. The cashews do double duty by substituting for both the cheese and the pine nuts usually found in a classic pesto. Plenty of fresh basil, parsley and kale pack a punch of healthy greens.

Kale, Cashew and Fresh Herb Pesto
Makes 2 cups of pesto, serves 4

1 bunch of kale, about 2 cups of de-stemmed leaves
1 cup parsley leaves
1 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup cashews
2 cloves garlic
1 cup olive oil
zest and juice of one lemon (about 1/4 cup juice)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup cold water, as needed to thin
1 pound pasta, cooked according to package instructions
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
8 ounces ciliegine mozzarella balls, halved

1. Blend all of the pesto ingredients together in a food processor. Drizzle in additional olive oil until the pesto is smooth. Add water to thin, as needed.

2. Stir the fresh pesto with cooked pasta. Top with the halved tomatoes and mozzarella.

Cacio e Pepe is one our favorite classic Italian recipes! The best thing about this dish is how quickly it comes together with ingredients from the pantry. Prepare all of the ingredients before the pasta is cooked, so that the final assembly may be accomplished quickly with the hot pasta.

Cacio e Pepe (Pasta with Cheese and Pepper)
Serves 4

1 pound buccatini or spaghetti
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup of Pecorino Romano, Parmesan cheese, or Grana Padano, finely grated or any combination of these cheeses
1 teaspoon or more freshly cracked pepper
Kosher salt, to taste
1 cup reserved pasta water, plus additional, as needed

1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of well-salted water until it is al dente. Drain, and reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

2. In a large skillet melt the butter. Add the cooked pasta to the butter, and stir with grated cheese, pepper, salt, and enough of the reserved pasta water until the noodles are coated and a silky sauce is formed.

Fresh tomatoes shine in this simple pasta sauce. Using thinly sliced garlic gives a depth of sweet flavor, and a generous garnish of freshly shaved Parmesan cheese and basil makes for dinner perfection.

Fresh Tomato Sauce Linguine
Serves 4

1 pound linguine
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 pounds Roma tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Shaved Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil leaves, julienned

1. Sauté the garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.

2. Just as the garlic begins to smell fragrant, add the crushed red pepper, and then the cut tomatoes.

3. Simmer the sauce until it thickens (about 20 minutes) stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Meanwhile, in a pasta pot, boil the noodles in heavily salted water until they are cooked a little extra al dente. Reserve some of the pasta water (about 1 cup) to finish the sauce.

5. Using tongs, add the cooked pasta directly into the sauce. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of the reserved pasta water to thin and help the sauce coat the noodles. For a silky texture, add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and stir vigorously until combined and the noodles are coated with sauce.

6. Top the pasta with a generous portion of shaved Parmesan cheese and basil shreds.

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