Pasta with a twist: How to shake up your recipes

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This one’s for all the pasta people! We all know that friends come and go, but pasta is forever. Unfortunately, sometimes you may find yourself in a rut… If that’s the case, check out these recipes that can help spice things up.

For the adventurer: Avocado Spaghetti

Credit J. Kopec Green eggs and ham has nothing on avocado spaghetti; this recipe is best for cuisine adventurers.
Credit J. Kopec
Green eggs and ham has nothing on avocado spaghetti; this recipe is best for cuisine adventurers.

Recipe card:

What you need:

  • 1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
  • 2 peeled and pitted avocados
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • Green onions, about 2 bunches
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup of olive oil  
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

  1. Cook the pasta.
  2. Put the avocado, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and onions in a blender or food processor and blend together until smooth.
  3. Combine the sauce and cooked pasta in a bowl. It may help if you save a quarter cup of leftover water from the boil to add if you find the sauce too thick
  4. Add seasonings.

Avocado sauce instead of marinara can be a little jarring, I know. But don’t be fooled, this recipe adds a lighter sauce to an old favorite. I used a recipe from Erin McDowell on Purewow to help learn the ins and outs of the sauce game, but made some tweaks to the original. My favorite part was the tang the lemon and avocado gave without being overpowering.

Credit J. Kopec This pasta proves that great things come in small recipes.
Credit J. Kopec
This pasta proves that great things come in small recipes.

For the environmentally-conscious: Vegan Aioli

Recipe card:

What you need:

  • 1 pound faralle pasta
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Garlic salt to taste
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
  • 1-2 handfuls of spinach
  • 1 teaspoon cumin

What to do:

  1. Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic when the oil is hot enough to sauté.
  3. Sauté until the garlic changes color.
  4. Add spinach.
  5. Add seasonings.
  6. Add in the cooked, unrinsed pasta, mixing it with sauce. You can add olive oil to taste.

Friends share recipes all the time, but I’d be wrong to say I’m not totally grateful for this recipe from my friend Taylor, which she said she created herself. This one definitely isn’t for vampires, given its amount of garlic use. The best part of this dish is that the sauce is light but still provides flavor.

For the traditionalist: Mac & Cheese

Credit: J. Kopec Everyone loves mac and cheese, but sometimes you have to shake even that up.
Credit: J. Kopec
Everyone loves mac and cheese, but sometimes you have to shake even that up.

Recipe card:

What you need:

  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 normal sized bags of shredded cheddar cheese
  • Handful of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoon flour
  • Olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups of milk
  • Nutmeg to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste

What to do:

  1. Cook pasta.
  2. Pour olive oil into saucepan, about 1 turn all the way around the pan.
  3. Heat saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter so that it melts with the oil.
  4. Add flour and combine with oil and butter until it browns.
  5. Add milk and let it sit until it thickens and starts to bubble.
  6. Mix in cheddar cheese a handful at a time, creating a cheese sauce.
  7. Add seasoning to taste.
  8. Combine sauce and pasta; place in medium size pan.
  9. Add mozzarella cheese and put the pan in oven to broil until melted.

This Mac & Cheese recipe has been in my arsenal for about a year, but I’ve changed it pretty drastically since I first tried it with Rachael Ray’s help. I would consider this recipe best for barbecues, paired with some buffalo chicken, but it’s definitely a stand alone item as well. The best part is its combination of a cream sauce and melted, baked cheese.

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