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Pasta Hacks: Simple + Delicious

Ever versatile, quick and easy to make from pantry staples when the day has not allowed for a grocery run, and palatable for even the pickiest of eaters (Oliver, my eight-year-old son, I’m looking at you!), pasta is our go-to well-balanced dish.

Here are some ideas for creating your own quick pasta that is also anything but ordinary or boring.

Our must-have pantry staples include:

Dried pasta (I like long noodles like linguine for olive-oil-based sauces. The kids prefer farfalle or rotini, of course.)

Good olive oil



Nuts (toast and chop them for crunch)

San Marzano tomatoes

Crushed red chili pepper flake

Good sea salt for finishing


Keep on hand in the fridge

Flat-leaf parsley

Anchovy paste

Hard, salty cheese (try Parmesan, Pecorino, or Piave to start)

Eggs (a poached or fried egg transforms any pasta into saucy goodness)

Bacon or pancetta


From your go-to staples, the recipe possibilities are practically endless. Here are a few of our favorite pasta recipes.


In the summer months: Chop up a bunch of super ripe tomatoes, douse with olive oil in a bowl, add a few cloves of smashed garlic, chopped basil, and salt. Let sit in a warm place for an hour. Toss with hot pasta when you're ready to eat. Throwing in some fresh mozzarella isn't the worst.


My kids will not eat ground beef, but bacon...always a hit. So, the Heirloom Family Kitchen team created a “cheater's” amatriciana. First, render bacon and then pull out and use the fat to sauté onions plus some chili flakes, then add canned tomatoes to make a quick sauce. Add back in the bacon, cooked pasta, and plenty of Parm.

Or, try a simple carbonara. Beat a couple eggs, add a ton of grated Parm and Pecorino and a bunch of roughly ground pepper. Render out some bacon, toss the pasta in the pork and pork fat for a bit. Take off the heat. Add the egg/cheese mixture. Toss til incorporated.


I very often make a version of pantry staple-driven pasta with capers, garlic, anchovy, chili, parsley and lots of olive oil and lemon. Throw in some roasted cauliflower. Always delicious and easy.


Pasta + peas. Season well with sea salt and freshly grated Parmesan. Simple, fresh, and oh so spring.

Nutty and Herbaceous

I Iove making a roughly chopped version of pesto: handfuls of mixed fresh herbs, garlic, and nuts of your choice. Some raw zucchini or tomatoes always welcome. Toss with steaming pasta, olive oil, and grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper. It tastes a good as it looks!