Pasta the oldest fast food in the world

pasta.jpgMany families have a lot of fast food ready meals with not a lot of nutrition these days, not realising that pasta dishes are probably the fastest meals you can cook and really enjoy.Try a few of my favourites recipes all are quick and simple to make.They cover meats,vegetables,seafood and just plain pasta.Whether you want to conjure up a fast simple meal or make a great feast pasta covers it all…I heard an Italian chef on a food programme say…” Pasta is minimum effort maximum satisfaction ” That really sums it up for me.

Pasta with courgettes,lemon & pine nuts

Preparation time 10 minutes/cooking time 10 minutes


This is one of my favourite pasta dishes so I thought I would put this in first.It is so easy to make and useful when you have to many courgettes (zucchini)…and as every one knows I love lemons!

2 plump garlic cloves thinly sliced

olive oil

500g/1lb small courgettes pared length ways into strips (use a potato peeler)

Grated zest and rind of 1 large lemon

85ml/3fl oz double cream or yogurt

salt and pepper

350g/12oz pasta

5 tbs pine nuts lightly toasted

freshly grated parmesan to serve


  • Warm the garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes so not allow to get too hot.Discard the garlic.
  • Fry the courgettes briskly in the garlic infused oil in batches until golden.Return all the courgettes to the pan with the lemon zest and the juice and the cream or yogurt.Simmer for 2 – 3 minutes until thickened slightly,then season.
  • Meanwhile cook and drain the pasta according to the packet instructions.Toss with the courgette sauce and pine nuts.
  • Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.

Spaghetti with sardines,lemon and fennel

Prep time 10 minutes/cooking time 10 minutes


This is another quick recipe which would be great for a quick lunch.

14oz pasta

1 fennel bulb, finely chopped feathery tops reserved

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

2tbs olive oil

8 fresh sardine fillets

leaves from a small bunch parsley chopped.

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper


  • Cook and drain the pasta following the packet instructions,reserving about half cup of cooking water.
  • Meanwhile, fry the fennel and garlic in the oil,stirring for about 1 minute.Add the sardine fillets,skin side down and cook for 1 minute.Turn them over and cook for a further minute until cooked through.
  • Add the parsley,reserved feathery fennel leaves,lemon juice and seasoning,using plenty of black pepper.
  • Toss with the pasta ,adding enough of the reserved cooking water to moisten,if necessary.

Pasta with peas mint and ricotta

Prep 5mins  minutes/cooking  time 10 mins


Another fast food meal….How quick can they be?

300g/10oz pasta

450g/1lb fresh or frozen peas

250g/9oz ricotta

small leaves from a small bunch of mint

salt and freshly ground black pepper

parmesan shavings to serve


  • Cook and drain the pasta according to packet instructions
  • Meanwhile, cook fresh peas in boiling water for 4 – 5 minutes ,frozen peas for 2 minutes and then drain reserving 2tbs cooking water
  • Puree 1 third of the peas with the ricotta,reserved water,and mint leaves .Transfer to a small non stick saucepan,season and warm through gently ,stirring frequently .
  • Add the remaining peas to the pasta just before it is ready,to warm through.
  • Drain and toss with the sauce .Serve topped with parmesan shavings.

Pasta shells with crab,avocado & fresh tomatoes

Prep time 10 mins /cooking time 10 minutes


350g/12oz pasta shells

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

pinch chilli flakes

2tbs olive oil

4 vine ripened tomatoes,seeded and chopped

175g/6oz fresh or frozen mixed white and brown crab meat

2tbs chopped parsley

2tbs lemon juice

1 avocado diced

small bunch spring onions finely chopped (or chives)

salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Cook and drain the pasta according to the packet instructions.
  • Meanwhile fry the garlic and chilli in the oil for 1 minute.
  • Add the tomatoes,crab meat,parsley and lemon juice and heat gently until just warmed through.
  • Toss with the pasta,avocado,spring onions and seasoning .
  • Serve sprinkled with parsley.

Pasta with sausages and tomato sauce

Prep time 10 mins / Cooking time 30 minutes


This is a favourite recipe for when I have been for a long walk or done a lot of gardening .It seems to fill the gap.I used to make something similar to this when the kids were small to fill a gap when we were short of money.

2tbs  oil

1  onion sliced

450g/1lb spicy sausages

300ml/half pint passata

350/12oz dried pasta tubes or shells

salt and freshly ground pepper

grated parmesan cheese


  • Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion until soft
  • Meanwhile,bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.
  • Remove the skins from the sausages and chop them into large pieces .add to the onion and cook over a high heat stirring until browned.
  • Stir in the passata,bring to the boil and cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  • While the sauce is cooking ,add the pasta to the boiling water ,stir,then cover the pan and return quickly to the boil.Remove the lid and cook according to the instructions on the packet until tender.
  • Stir the seasoning into the sauce.
  • Drain the pasta and pour into a warm serving bowl.Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss lightly.
  • Serve with grated parmesan.
  • If liked a chilli can be fried with the onion .

Tagliatelle with chicken,courgettes & red pepper.

preparation time / 10 mins / cooking time 30 mins. serves 4


A very quick and easy to prepare supper or lunch dish.

4 skinless chicken breasts about 4 – 5 ozs each

1 small red pepper finely chopped

2 tbs capers

2 tbs finely chopped mixed flat leaf parsley,thyme and origano

salt and pepper

2 tbs olive oil

2 tbs dry white vermouth or wine

2 small courgettes sliced

400g/14oz tagliatelle

freshly grated parmesan.


  • Preheat the oven to 190c/gas 5
  • Lay the chicken breasts in a single layer on a piece of foil that is large enough to enclose them.Scatter over the chopped red pepper,capers,herbs and seasoning.
  • Fold up the sides of the foil and pour over the oil and vermouth or wine.Twist the foil edges tightly together to seal,place on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Meanwhile fry the courgettes in a little oil until soft and becoming flecked with brown.
  • About 10 minutes before the chicken is ready ,cook and drain the tagliatelle according to the packet directions.
  • Carefully remove the chicken from the foil (keep the cooking juices) and slice across the grain.
  • Toss the pasta with the chicken and reserved juices and courgettes.
  • Serve accompanied by freshly grated parmesan.

Broad bean & basil cannelloni

preparation time 20 mins. / cooking time 40 mins . serves 4


Takes a while to make but well worth it.

12 cannelloni tubes

350g/12oz  broad beans fresh or frozen

225g/8oz ricotta cheese

1 garlic clove chopped (optional)

2 – 3 tbs basil finely chopped

black pepper

quantity of tomato sauce

50g/mozzarella grated

2tbs freshly grated parmesan.

Cheese sauce

40g/1 oz butter

2 tbs plain flour

450ml/15fl oz milk

50g/2 oz parmesan.


  • Cook and cool the cannelloni tubes
  • meanwhile make a simple cheese sauce (see below)
  • Preheat the oven to 200c/gas6
  • Boil the broad beans in salted water until tender.Drain and rinse in cold water.
  • Put into a food processor with the ricotta,garlic and basil.Pulse until mixed to a rough texture.Season with black pepper.
  • Spoon into a large piping bag(or a thick plastic bag with a corner snipped off) and pipe into the cannelloni tubes.
  • Spread the tomato sauce onto the base of a large shallow baking dish and lay the tubes in the dish.
  • Cover com[pletly with the cheese sauce and sprinkle over the mozzarella and parmesan.
  • Bake in a pre heated oven for 30 – 35 minutes until bubbling and golden.

Cheese sauce

Put all the ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a moderate heat ,whisking all the time and simmer until the sauce thickens,still whisking.

Reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer very gently for 2 – 3 minutes ,stirring occasionally.

Add the cheese and stir until melted.Do not boil once the cheese has been added.

Tagliatelle with steak & onions .

preparation time 10 minutes cooking time 15 mins. serves 4

Great served with crusty bread to mop up the juices.

2 large red onions thickly sliced red onions.

virgin olive oil

200ml / 7fl oz half fat creme fresh

250g tagliatelle 2 x 200g / 7 oz steaks

salt & freshly ground pepper

leaves from a small handful parsley , chopped.

  • Cook the onions , stirring frequently in a little oil in frying pan for 8 – 10 minutes until softened and golden . Stir in the creme fresh and heat through gently.
  • Meanwhile cook and drain the pasta according to packet instructions reserving half a cup of the cooking water.
  • At the same time , season the steaks and cook on a hot griddle for 2 – 3 minutes each side until browned but still pink in side . Remove to the plate and leave to rest.
  • Cut the steak into strips across the grain . Add to the onions , with any juices that have collected onto the plate , and the parsley . Season . After a minute or so , toss with the pasta , and enough of the reserved water if necessary to moisten.


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