Easy Weeknight Pasta

It's no secret that I love pasta! When I have some time, I will always jump at making pasta from scratch. The taste and texture are outstanding. However, like most people, time can get away from me and next thing I know it's dinner time. 

There is always a box or two of penne pasta in my cabinet for quick weeknight meals or for my kids when I am making a dish I KNOW they won't eat. This super simple meal can be made in less time than it takes to boil the pot of water for the pasta.

The versatility of this meal is what I like the most. I use whatever is in the pantry. For instance, use sage instead of basil. How about a splash of white wine after you sautee the onions or add sweet peas to make it "heathy." (Winky face) Think about adding a piece of grilled fish or chicken and serving this pasta as a side. You can easily serve 6 people when you add a piece of protein to the plate. 

My favorite way of eating this pasta is with Emeril's Creole Seasoning. Reminds me of Nawlins! I use 1 1/2 tablespoons and omit the hot pepper flakes. There is already cayenne in the mixture. Find the seasoning mixture on the Creole Potatoes Au Gratin post. Click here. 

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1 cup of Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano or other hard cheese, grated

3/4 cup of unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/4 of a red onion, diced

1 garlic clove, grated

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake or 1 1/2 tablespoon of Creole Seasoning

1/2 cup of pasta water

1 box of Penne Mezza

1/2 cup of fresh basil, torn or Chiffonade

Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the pasta per the directions on the package. Save 1/2 cup of the pasta water before you drain the pasta. Drain the pasta and set aside. 

While the pasta is cooking, set up the "mise en place." This is French for "have all your ingredients ready."


In a large pan, melt the butter and sautee the onions over medium heat until soft, about 4-5 minutes.


Add the garlic and red pepper flake to the pan. When the garlic becomes fragrant, about 1 minute, pour in the pasta water. 


Toss in the pasta and cheese and the basil. Salt and pepper to taste. 


Divide the pasta amongst four plates and top of more grated Pecorino Romano. 


OOH, you could add some cleaned mussels and 3/4 cup of white wine after the onions are soft, cover and steam the mussels for 4-6 minutes or until they open. Add the garlic and hot pepper flake until fragrant. Add the pasta water, toss in the pasta, some lemon zest, salt and pepper. Garnish with some parsley and BOOM, dinner is served. It will be like Sunday Dinner on a Tuesday!