The inspiration for this recipe comes from a long-ago birthday dinner at a tiny neighborhood Italian restaurant. The restaurant is now (sadly) closed, but their smoked salmon pasta with tomato cream sauce lives on!
The pasta is bathed in a velvety, slightly pink, tomato sauce with a touch of cream. It’s delicious and elegant too. Make a double batch and serve it for company (they’ll think you’ll worked on it all day).
This only requires a little bit of smoked salmon (about a slice or two), so you won’t bust your budget cooking it. Even better, check to see if your market or deli sells smoked salmon ends. They’re much cheaper, and taste just as good as the fancy slices. Besides, a beautiful slice hardly matters when you are going to cut it up into small pieces!
If you don’t have any smoked salmon handy, you can use leftover cooked salmon instead. Add it right at the end. The idea is just to heat it up. You don’t want to overcook it.
To save some time (and get dinner done faster), put the water for the pasta in the pot first, and start bringing it to a boil. While the water is heating up, chop the onion. Then get the second pan going with the butter and oil. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta to the pot. Finish the sauce in the second pan while the pasta cooks. That way, you have dinner in about 20-25 minutes and nothing sits around getting cold.
This recipe makes me smile whenever I make it. You may wonder what’s so funny about linguine with garlic and olive oil? Nothing really, it just reminds me of a friend.
This friend does not cook. At all. I don’t think she’s ever used her oven. I was at her house one day and I was hungry. Nobody else wanted anything, so I started poking around in her fridge and cupboards (with permission).
I found some dried pasta, bouillon cubes, some olive oil, and a can of parmesan cheese. So, I made the “shelf stable” version of this recipe. They all looked at me as if I had walked on water or parted the seas!
It is, of course, much better if you have higher quality ingredients at hand. Here at home, I used fresh linguine, homemade chicken broth, and freshly grated parmesan cheese, along with high quality olive oil.
You can do it that way, the shelf stable way, or somewhere in-between. I won’t judge.
A simple, weeknight dinner you can make even if your cupboards are nearly bare! It can be fancy (fresh pasta), or simple and basic (shelf stable ingredients). Great for those, what the heck do I eat for dinner nights. A lot of flavor without a lot of effort.
3 garlic cloves, minced
2T olive oil
2 quarts water
1 tsp salt
1/4 lb. linguine or spaghetti
1/3 cup chicken stock
freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Add the oil to a small frying pan. Put the garlic in the pan and cook over medium heat. until it turns slightly golden. Don't burn it! Stir it every once in a while, then turn off the heat and set it aside.
Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the salt.
If you are using dried pasta, add it, then stir it (to keep it from sticking).
Cook for 5-8 minutes until it's al dente (soft, but not mushy).
If you have fresh pasta, add it, stir, and watch carefully. The pasta is cooked when the water returns to a boil (a minute or two).
Drain the pasta and put it back in the pot.
Add the chicken broth and turn the heat back on to medium. Let the pasta/broth mixture simmer for a few minutes until most of the broth is absorbed.
Take the garlic/oil mixture you set aside and add that to the pasta pot. Using a spoon and a fork, toss the whole thing together, like a salad.
Remove to a plate and serve, topped with black pepper and grated cheese.
Substitutions and Variations for Linguine with Garlic and Olive Oil
Make it more substantial with some cooked chicken or cooked shrimp
In a hurry for dinner?Pasta is your friend. This pasta dish with olives, tomatoes, and capers (or pasta puttanesca) has a slightly racy name. Nobody really knows why. One theory says the dish was popular with the ladies of the evening because it was easy to cook and the ingredients were cheap.Another says that the sauce’s aroma helped lure in customers.
Whatever the reason, it certainly is budget friendly and you can make it in about 20 minutes.
Whoever is responsible created a dish that’s packed with flavor. There’s pungent little bits of garlic, slightly briny capers, and Niçoise olives.
Capers, in case you don’t know, are the buds of a Mediterranean plant that are picked and then pickled (try to say that three times fast).I always thought Niçoiseolives were a variety, but I found out today that they’re really called Le Calletier.Niçoise is just the method of curing them.
I adapted this recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook. They suggested using whole canned tomatoes, and then squeezing them out and chopping them up. That’s too messy for me. You can use crushed tomatoes, purée, or even tomato sauce in a pinch.
Traditionally, this recipe also includes anchovies.However, I am a fish wimp. The strongest fish flavor I like is salmon.Also, anchovies were $32 a pound.Nope. Not happening. Nuh uh.
The other great thing about pasta puttanesca is that you can use canned tomatoes, jarred capers, dry pasta, and spices you probably already have sitting on your shelf.
This recipe for spaghetti with spinach and lemon cream sauce was a bit of an accident. I innocently ordered a bunch of spinach (along with other groceries) from Fresh Direct. I expected, well a standard bunch of spinach. What I got was a “spinach tree.” It’s enormous. It’s so large I had to prop it up against a bottle of seltzer and a plant to take a photo of it.
So, if anyone from Google noticed a spike in searches for ‘spinach recipes’ over the last few days, it was me.
I adapted this recipe from the Smitten Kitchen. She used basil (or arugula), and while I have basil growing in my window, I don’t have arugula.
Besides, there’s that enormous bunch of spinach to use up!
So, I combined the two. A bit of basil, and a handful of spinach. some diluted Greek yogurt instead of the heavy cream (didn’t have the cream and couldn’t leave to get some), and dinner is served!
A great summer pasta dinner with fresh lemon, spinach, and a bit of cream.
one handful spaghetti (about 4 ounces), it should be about the diameter of a quarter
1 lemon (for juice and zest)
1 T extra virgin olive oil, plus a bit more when you serve the pasta
1 T heavy cream*
2 T finely grated Parmesan cheese (plus more when you serve the pasta)
Handful of spinach, washed thoroughly, shredded, or chiffonade (stack the leaves, roll them up so they look like a cigar, and then chop them cross-wise)
salt and freshly ground pepper
Boil a pot of water (a dutch oven will work nicely because it's wide enough to hold the pasta). Salt the water and then add the pasta. Cook about 8 minutes until it's al dente.
As you wait for the pasta to cook, zest the lemon (you'll need about 3/4 of a teaspoon of zest). Then, squeeze the lemon to juice it (this works best if it's warm; if you had it in the fridge, pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds to warm it up). You'll get about 1-2 tablespoons.
When the pasta is ready, drain it, keeping about 1/3 C of the water.
Take a small saucepan and heat the olive oil, cream, lemon zest, and about half the reserved water. Cook that on high heat for a minute. Put the pasta back in the larger pot, add the lemon zest mixture, and stir until the pasta is coated with it.
Add the parmesan, and half the lemon juice. Stir and toss together thoroughly (I used a spaghetti spoon and a standard fork ) until the sauce is distributed evenly over the pasta.
If you want your pasta "saucier" add more of the cooking water. Taste and add more lemon if you like.
Stir in the basil and the spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Top your pasta with extra olive oil and parmesan cheese and serve.
Substitutions and Variations for Spaghetti with Spinach and Lemon Cream Sauce
If you don’t have heavy cream, melt 1/3 C unsalted butter and add 3/4 C whole milk. This makes about a cup.
Use plain Greek yogurt and thin it out with a little milk. If you do this, add a little hot water to the mixture first, before putting it in the pasta. This will prevent it from curdling.
Use frozen peas instead of spinach (add to the pasta while it’s cooking and save yourself an extra pot to clean; put the peas in for about 3 minutes).
Add some leftover cooked chicken for more protein.
I love the Smitten Kitchen blog (as does a friend who is a professional chef). Deb’s recipes are consistently good. And, her original kitchen was nearly as small as mine. Which just proves you don’t need a lot of space, drawerfuls of gadgets, or an enormous pantry to create delicious food.
Everything is made from real ingredients, and ingredients that are easy to find. I know it really bugs me when some recipe calls for a teaspoon of some exotic ingredient I’ll never use again! One thing about this book is that the format spreads the recipes over more than one page, so it can be a bit hard to follow.
It’s a small thing, but this spoon makes it much easier to toss your spaghetti and coat it with the sauce. It’s also a lot easier to get it out of the pot and into a bowl for serving. And because it’s OXO, it’s comfortable to hold too.
This is one of my favorite tools. It’s just the thing for zesting lemons (and getting only the zest without the bitter pith). Hard cheese can be tough to grate with a box grater, but this produces perfect little curls that practically melt into your pasta. It’s also ideal for grating nutmeg, ginger, or even garlic. Since it’s long and thin, you can just perch it right on top of the bowl while you grate. Note that it’s sharp, so be careful!
More Recipes for One Person with Spinach or Spaghetti
This penne with feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives recipe is fairly hands-off, simple, and delicious. And, of course, it’s just one serving!
It also allowed me to make some progress using the enormous jar of sun-dried tomatoes that’s been in the back of my fridge forever! Add some pasta, a bit of feta cheese, olives, and a few leaves of fresh basil, and you get a tasty lunch with only a few minutes of real work. (I have a basil plant growing in my window, so that basil was really fresh).
The feta was leftover from making a feta and spinach omelette, so it also helps toward my goal of not wasting anything. I just hate having a couple of tablespoons of sauce, or a few random bits of fruit or vegetables turning into a science experiment.
Now, on to more tasty mental pictures.
Since the tomatoes are dried, you’ll have to start by heating them and softening them up a bit. You can do this overnight (if you’re organized), or just start them a few minutes before you start boiling the water for the pasta.
Once the tomatoes are soaked and the pasta is cooked, the rest of the recipe takes only a few minutes to prepare. Just cook the garlic, toss the remaining ingredients in the saucepan you used to cook the penne and heat them up with the pasta.
Since the entire meal only uses one pot, it’s also easy to clean up afterwards. I don’t have a dishwasher, so easy cleanup is good!
The nice thing about sun-dried tomatoes is that they do last a long time (if you happen to have bought a giant jar because the price was great). In addition to pasta, you can toss them on pizza, mix them in with eggs, add them to pesto, or put them in meatloaf.
My mom only eats black olives and my dad only likes green ones. I never really liked olives of any kind that much until I tried these. They were set out as a bar snack (of all things). They are bright green, mild, and don’t taste sour or briny like most olives do. They’re great with this pasta dish, and also marinated in olive oil with slivers of garlic and rosemary (which is how the bar served them). Delicious and great for a wine and cheese cocktail hour (either just for you or for company).
More Single Serving Recipes with Pasta or Feta Cheese
It was recently Chinese new year, and I had a craving for spicy sesame noodles. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the “right’ sort of noodles. Most of the sesame noodles recipes use long pasta noodles, usually linguine. I didn’t have linguine, only penne. So, I made do with what I had at hand. Feel free to use either one. It doesn’t matter.
Also, the recipes I found online were either much too sweet, or called for other ingredients I didn’t have. The one from Allrecipes was too sweet and had too much oil. It was also meant to serve eight people, rather than just one person. I found another recipe from The New York Times, but that one called for tahini or peanut butter, which I didn’t have. I did like the idea of including ginger though.
This is really spicy, so if you prefer a milder version, leave out the chili garlic sauce.
There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of mac and cheese recipes out there: three cheese, four cheese, and on and on. This savory mac and cheese recipe is a bit different. First, it’s both savory and cheesy, second it’s sized for just one person. No leftovers.
I got the idea for this recipe from a friend who made it with sun dried tomatoes. I tried it that way, but wasn’t mad about the combination. However, the idea to add bay leaf and garlic is inspired. I know it sounds odd, but the garlic becomes mellow once you cook it, and the bay leaf complements the cheese.
I’ve used three cheeses: cheddar, mozzarella, and manchego. My friend used cheddar and parmesan. You can follow my version, or his, or make up your own. Provolone would work too. I even recently had mac and cheese that had muenster in it, which worked surprisingly well.
One thing though, he used low fat milk, which I would never do. You can, if you want to.
I just got this little dish and I’m really pleased with it. It’s oven, dishwasher, and microwave safe, and it fits in the toaster oven so I don’t have to heat up my big oven to make something small. It’s called a quiche dish, but it was great for mac and cheese, and I intend to use it for single serving apple crisp and brownies. It’s even pretty enough to serve in. The other nice thing is you can buy just one, rather than a set.
This au gratin dish, from the same company, is also a good option. It has handles to make it easier to pick up and take out of the oven (which I wish I had thought of). It would also make a nice dish for serving scrambled eggs.
Summer is gone, but I still had a few tomatoes and eggplants left from the farmer’s market. There was also some fresh mozzarella cheese in the fridge, and a friend posted a lovely photo of her caprese salad. Inspiration struck, and I thought I’d put them together to make pasta alla norma (pasta with eggplant).
It’s a slightly spicy pasta dish with fresh eggplant, and tomato sauce, topped with manchego cheese. This is a great meal when you’re in a hurry, as it’s pretty easy to throw together.
The recipe is typically made with long pasta, but I only had short, curly pasta so I used that instead.
The original recipe (from the New York Times) called for lots and lots of olive oil. I love olive oil, but so does eggplant. It just slurps it up! However, I found that by cooking the eggplant on a low flame, it used a lot less olive than it would otherwise.
Pasta alla norma (with eggplant and red pepper flakes)
2-3 slices of eggplant, cut into thin strips (like fries)
2-3 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced
generous pinch dried pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp tomato sauce
1/4 cup pasta
manchego cheese or other hard Italian cheese (grated) for topping
Fill a 2 quart saucepan about halfway with water, heat on high, and bring it to a boil.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on low heat. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
While the eggplant is cooking, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.
Remove the eggplant from the pan.
Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, and tomato sauce to the frying pan.
When the garlic softens, add the eggplant back into the pan.
Drain the cooked pasta and add it to the eggplant mixture.
Stir to combine the pasta and the eggplant.
Pour the finished dish into a bowl and top with grated cheese.
If you don't have Manchego cheese, you can use Romano instead.
This is so simple, it’s hardly a recipe at all. Just layer slices of fresh tomato, fresh unsalted mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves. Top with a generous drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
This pasta, broccoli, mushrooms, and chicken sausage recipe is based on a recipe invented by Kimberly Chapman (from Eat the Evidence; she makes astonishing desserts and “Ace of Cakes” cakes too).
She had this wonderful English, locally raised bacon and fresh asparagus and decided to make pasta with it (her recipe is here).
It looked so good I wanted to try it. But I didn’t have bacon (or asparagus). I could have gone out and bought asparagus, but I’m not a huge asparagus fan, unless it’s drenched in Hollandaise sauce. I did have some chicken sausage and frozen broccoli though. So, I decided to follow her technique while changing the ingredients a bit.
I used chicken sausage instead of bacon, kept the mushrooms, added red bell pepper (as I had part of a pepper leftover from something else and had to use it up). Then, I changed the cheese to Manchego instead of parmesan, because that’s also what I had on hand.
Tip: When your chunk of parmesan, Manchego, or other hard cheese gets hard to grate with a box grater, use a microplane instead. You can also save the rinds (or even buy them at the market) and use them for soup. Just put them in a plastic bag in the fridge. They’ll keep indefinitely.
Back to the recipe, you essentially, cook the sausage (or bacon), add the veggies, then the pasta, some chicken broth, and top it all with grated cheese.
Pasta with Sausage, Broccoli, Mushrooms, and Peppers
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Pasta with broccoli, sausage, red peppers, and mushrooms. A quick and easy dinner for one.
1/4 long pasta (such as spaghetti)
2 T olive oil
1 link chicken sausage, cut into one inch chunks
2 large mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 C frozen broccoli
1/4 C red bell pepper, cut in chunks
1/4 C chicken broth
2T grated Manchego (or parmesan cheese)
Fill a medium size saucepan with water and bring to a boil.
Add the pasta, and cook until al dente (about 10) minutes.
While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large frying pan.
Cook sausage, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes.
Remove the sausage from the pan, but don't wipe the pan.
Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook five minutes until they start to brown.
Put the frozen broccoli into the pan and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes..
Pour in the chicken broth, and let the mixture cook a minute or two.
Add the red pepper.
Once the pasta is ready, drain it and add to the frying pan, tossing with tongs to combine all the ingredients.
Grate the cheese over the pasta mixture and serve.
You can use regular sausage instead of chicken sausage; if you do, you'll need less olive oil. Mix and match the ingredients to suit your own taste. Vary the veggies, go back to bacon, or skip the meat and use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian.
After a rather chilly spring, summer is suddenly here in full force. It’s hot, it’s sticky and I do not want to stand over a hot stove for one second longer than I have to. Time for salads, pasta, and as little use of the stove as possible. So, with that in mind, today’s dish is a simple, but delicious summer pasta served with green olives and feta cheese.
I ate it hot, because I was hungry and didn’t want to wait for it to cool, but I suspect it would work just as well cold. It would probably be great for a picnic pasta salad, as it’s easy to make and there’s no mayonnaise to worry about.
It’s easy to make too. Just boil the water, cook the pasta, and chop up a few ingredients.
I confess that while I put measurements in the recipe, I didn’t really measure. I just tossed it all together. Something like this doesn’t really have to be all that exact. It’s tough to go wrong unless you overdo it on the dressing.
1/4 feta cheese, crumbled or cut into small pieces
1 T olive oil
generous squirt of lemon juice.
4-5 grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
Boil the water and cook the pasta.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a bowl. Add the olives, basil, and feta cheese.
Mix the olive oil and lemon juice together in a small bowl and pour over the pasta mixture.
Add the tomatoes.
Toss the pasta to coat it and combine all the ingredients.
I prefer green castelvetrano olives, but you can use black if you like them better. I add the tomatoes last to stop them from cooking (since I don't like freshly cooked tomatoes). If you aren't bothered by that, add them when you add the cheese.