on the menu ~ long pastas

Awhile ago I shared with you my Pasta 101 post and I wanted to elaborate further, focusing on long pasta shapes.  As I stated in my original post, not all pastas {brands, shapes, flavors, etc.} are created equal.  For basic knowledge on how to cook pasta please refer to my original post since I cover a lot of ground there.
On the menu long pastas
Here I will only focus on long shaped pastas, like spaghetti, fettuccini, linguine, etc.  As I explained in my previous post, I tend to gravitate to certain shapes for certain sauces and that applies for long shaped pastas as well.  The thickness of the pasta affects how it coils, which affects how it clings to the sauce so you want to be deliberate about which particular style|shape you use.
For example, for the old spaghetti & meatball classic I only use “thin” spaghetti.  I don’t like the thickness of regular spaghetti, which gives the meal its texture and I find it too dense for my taste.  I much prefer the “thin” version, finding it more delicate and easier to coil.
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I grew up eating vermicelli, which is a thin spaghetti type pasta, since it was what my mother used.  “Thin” spaghetti falls in between vermicelli and regular spaghetti.  So this is my compromise, bringing  my own latin roots and my now married into Italian family heritage together.  It totally works for our family.
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As a young adult, I would order linguine & white clam sauce out at restaurants all.the.time.  It’s a favorite of mine.  I love it, and it always felt like a treat to order it out.  Fast forward to my life as a newlywed when I started cooking regularly and I made my own version of linguine & white clam sauce.
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Now it’s a dish I NEVER order out because I love how I make it at home better.   My family doesn’t really order it out either because they know I make it at home often enough plus they will get the stink eye from mom if they do.  Lol.   Clam sauce is traditionally prepared with linguine and that’s my choice as well.On the menu long pastas4
This is the only recipe that I make regularly with a long pasta that I use shellfish.  Most of the recipes lend themselves to some type of meat due to the heartiness of the longer pastas.  But just because they are hearty does not mean they are necessarily heavy.
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For example, I love to make this sausage recipe with spinach & lemon.  It has great pops of flavor from the acidity in the lemon, to the earthiness of the spinach and some heat from red pepper flakes.  Sometimes I also add Cannellini beans and|or toasted pine nuts, depending on what I have on hand.  This is one of the few dishes where I interchange between a long pasta or a shaped one like orecchiette or cavatelli since the sausage makes it hearty enough for a long pasta, but the lighter sauce also lends itself to shapes with nooks and crannies.  Pasta water helps keep this dish moist enough and stretches the sauce.

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Speaking of sausage, I created a recipe based on Mr. Masterpiece’s and my own tastes that I will share with you similar to the penne shrimp pasta recipe I shared with you last time.   I normally prepare this dish with either tagliatelle or pappardelle.  Both of these varieties are broad, flat ribbons of pasta with pappardelle being the broader of the two.  They either come flat or in nests and I’ve used both.  There is no rhyme or reason to which I use, it just boils down {no pun intended} to what is available at the store I happen to be shopping.  These are great shapes for bolognese or ragu sauces as well, which I guess my sausage recipe is within the realm of these.

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For another lighter recipe I love to use capellini, aka angel hair pasta, a la pomodoro.  This is a super fast & fresh recipe with diced Roma tomatoes sautéed in garlic and extra virgin olive oil.  I incorporate fresh basil leaves & Parmigiano Regiano cheese when you toss the tomatoes with the cooked pasta.  That’s it!  The lightness & freshness of the sauce is the perfect complement to the delicate, fine angel hair pasta thickness.

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Also for this dish I use a bit of the pasta water once again to make sure it remains moist and salt & paper to taste.  I add S&P while the tomatoes cook and taste it before serving to make sure it does not require any more flavor.  You can also add red pepper, either in powder or flake form, if you prefer a bit of heat.  This is a great side dish or add your protein of choice to elevate it to a main dish.
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Regardless of what shape of long pasta I choose to use, the one thing that remains constant on my table is a spoon at everyone’s place setting.  I have taught my children to coil their pasta with their forks inside a spoon in order to eat is at neatly as possible.  Of course you will have the occasional straggler that leads to a spaghetti slurp.  That’s the fun of eating ooey, gooey long pasta, right?

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Now for the yummy sausage recipe I promised.  This recipe feeds my family of four for a regular dinner.  It’s pretty simple and fast to make.  Remember read the entire recipe through twice and assemble all your ingredients before you start cooking.  This makes the process easier, less stressful and more enjoyable.  I hope you enjoy this and you can adapt it to your own tastes, for example omit the red pepper flakes if you are not a fan of spicy food or use canned Marinara sauce if you don’t make your own red sauce.  I tend to make double batches of sauce so I usually have my own sauce accessible.

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Recipe - creamy sausage pasta

“Life is a combination of magic and pasta.”
~Federico Fellini~

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