Few things in this world are as satisfying as a good pasta dish. But all too often, we fall into the same old rut, making the same dishes over and over again. If you’re looking to add a little excitement to your pasta repertoire, here are five tips to get you started.
1. Choose The Right Pasta
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning. Not all pasta is created equal, and certain types are better suited for certain dishes. For example, if you’re making a light cream sauce, you’ll want to use delicate pasta like angel hair or thin spaghetti. For heartier dishes, like Bolognese, you’ll want something with more heft, like fettuccine or rigatoni.
Another thing to keep in mind is the shape of the pasta. Specific shapes go better with certain sauces—for example, shells are great for creamy sauces and chunky vegetables, while long, thin noodles like spaghetti are best suited for light tomato sauces. Thinner noodles are also better for dishes with many ingredients, like a classic carbonara. Try mixing and matching different kinds of pasta and sauces until you find the perfect combination.
2. Don’t Be Afraid of Fat
Pasta is an excellent vehicle for fat, whether it’s olive oil, butter, or even cream. Fat adds flavor and richness to a dish, so don’t be afraid to use it generously. Be sure to use good-quality olive oil and butter, and opt for full-fat dairy when possible. Look for organic and grass-fed products for the best flavor and nutrition.
Other fats for enhancing pasta dishes include pancetta, bacon, and sausage. These ingredients can add a lot of flavor to a dish, so use them sparingly. For a real treat, try a mix of all three. A little goes a long way.
3. Get Creative With Your Sauce
The sauce is the star of the show in any pasta dish, so don’t be afraid to get creative. Think beyond the basic red sauce and experiment with different flavors and ingredients. Consider using a nontraditional sauce like pesto, Alfredo, or even a simple olive oil and garlic combo.
4. Use Fresh Ingredients
For pasta, fresh is always the best. If you can, use freshly made pasta, and stock up on fresh herbs and vegetables. Frozen or canned ingredients can work in a pinch, but they won’t have the same flavor or texture as their fresh counterparts.
Essential fresh herbs for pasta include basil, parsley, and oregano. These herbs can be used alone or in combination to add flavor to any dish. If you’re using dried herbs, add them early in the cooking process so they have time to rehydrate and release their flavor.
Other pasta herbs to keep on hand include thyme, sage, and rosemary. These are all great additions to heartier dishes like Bolognese or carbonara.
Fresh vegetables that make any dish more delicious include mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant. You can cook these vegetables in various ways, so get creative and experiment. Jazz it up with some garlic or onions to enhance the flavor.
Using high-quality frozen is the next best thing when you can’t find fresh. Add these ingredients to the cooking process’s end, so they have time to thaw and cook through.
5. Be Generous With The Cheese
Cheese is another ingredient that can make or break a pasta dish. It’s usually not as flavorful as freshly grated cheese, so you may want to add a little extra. And when it comes to topping your pasta with cheese, don’t be shy—the more, the better! If you’re using pre-shredded cheese, give it a taste before adding it to your plate.
The best types of cheese for pasta include Parmesan, Pecorino, and Ricotta. You need to consider the flavor of the cheese when choosing one for your dish. For example, Parmesan is a strong, sharp cheese that pairs well with bold flavors, while Ricotta is milder and goes well with lighter sauces.
Creamy dishes like Alfredo and carbonara are also delicious with a sprinkling of Gruyere or Gorgonzola. These cheeses have a strong flavor, so use them sparingly.
With these five tips, you’re well on your way to creating a pasta dish that’s sure to please. Here’s an easy & simple ground pork pasta recipe to get started. So get cooking and enjoy!