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Old 12-03-2013, 04:48 AM   #1
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Spices for pasta side dish?

I almost never eat pasta, so I have little experience with it as an ingredient, but it has been recommended to me as a side dish next to various meats or livers in various sauces, cooking it with butter, salt and pepper.

I have tried this and I found it to be an interesting combination, only that the pasta seemed somewhat bland to me. I would like to see if I can add more flavor with spices or herbs but am unsure what to try, and also wether the spices/herbs used would depend on what the pasta is served with.

Any shared culinary thoughts are appreciated.


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Old 12-03-2013, 06:11 AM   #2
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A simple pasta dish would be olive oil, garlic and anchovies. Maybe some parmesan. While the pasta is cooking, you make the sauce.

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Old 12-03-2013, 06:38 AM   #3
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There are many ways to dress pasta, from a simple garlic/olive oil/Parmesan sauce to a long-cooked meat sauce. And different types and shapes of pasta often work better with certain sauces. In general, thin, delicate pasta works best with light, delicate sauces and thicker, heavier pasta works best with heartier sauces.

When I was really getting into cooking, I learned a lot from Rachael Ray. Here's a sort of guide to some common pasta shapes from her magazine with suggestions for accompanying sauces and some variations: http://www.rachaelraymag.com/food-ho...uce-recipes/1/

Note that you don't have to use that specific pasta with a given sauce. You could use penne or rotini for any of the small pastas in that list.
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Old 12-03-2013, 07:27 AM   #4
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One of my favorite sauces for dressing pasta is brown butter and sage. It's very simple and works wonderfully as a side dish. Simply make up the sauce, toss your pasta in it, and you are done.

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Old 12-03-2013, 07:53 AM   #5
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You could also just toss it witha a little parmigiano reggiano.
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Old 12-03-2013, 08:49 AM   #6
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Red pepper flakes. That's something I like in a simple olive oil and pasta dish.
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Old 12-03-2013, 08:59 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by CraigC View Post
A simple pasta dish would be olive oil, garlic and anchovies. Maybe some parmesan. While the pasta is cooking, you make the sauce.
I don't know if you have it, but salty ricotta is better than parmesan in this sauce. Don't forget the fresh red pepper, sautéed with the garlic and the anchovies.
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Old 12-03-2013, 09:27 AM   #8
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I love fresh oregano or basil sauteed into the butter or olive oil that the pasta will be tossed with. You can also add dried versions of these. You can mince onion and garlic and cook it in the oil or butter too, let them brown just a little and the flavor is very rich. Dried tomatoes can add a pop of flavor. Cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered and added raw when the food is plated are also good. Parmesian, romano, asiago, and many other cheeses are good with pasta. You can also dress noodles/pasta with asian flavors if your meat has an asian theme. Ginger, corriander, a little soy sauce, a touch of honey, and butter are good. Or sessame seeds toasted in a dry pan, chives and a squeeze of lemon or lime. Actaully a squeeze of lemon or lime will work with a lot of different herbs too. Lemon and basil and butter on linguine is really good.

Most simple pasta sides will go with most meats, it all depends on how you season and prepare the meat and vegetables. You can always take one or two spices and carry them over to another part of the meal. For instance, you can use a spice/herb mix of garlic, onion, basil, oregano, black pepper. Season the meat with garlic, black pepper, oregano. Season the pasta with butter, onion, garlic, basil. Season the veggie with one of the flavors if desired or leave unseasoned for contrast. By having flavors that overlap but are still different you can make sure everything works together but doesn't all taste the same. You can also keep the meat seasoning really simple and do something more dramatic with the pasta. Like just s&p on the meat but a pasta with browned butter, garlic, and onion, pettite diced artichoke hearts, and chopped basil.

Main thing is to experiment and find what you like.
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Old 12-04-2013, 04:11 PM   #9
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I thought I was asking a simple question with a simple answer, but I've learned more than I had hoped for. Thank you all kindly for your help.

It's a real joy for me to post on this forum. It still surprises me how helpful and active everyone is. With every thread I start I end up feeling the need to individually thank everyone who replies, but then half my posts would be of giving thanks .
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Old 12-04-2013, 05:00 PM   #10
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One of the things I have seen tv cooking shows do is save a little water the pasta was cooked in, or don't quite drain it all. I am not sure if it helps keep the pasta from sticking, although I seem to think it helps distribute the sauce without diluting it too much. I think you only need add a tablespoon or so, and only when you think it needs it.

I like to toss pasta with pesto, and more parm.

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