What’s Cooking: Three quick dinners starring pasta and vegetables

Dinner midweek can be such a challenge, but pair a package of pasta with some fresh veggies and you can have a meal so good that next time you might even make it on the weekend – or for guests.

The peas and pasta recipe is from Joe Yonan of The Washington Post, who notes that peas at farmers markets tend to go quickly – and cost plenty.

“For those reasons and more, I know I should probably use them sparingly, but I can’t,” he writes. “So now’s the time I have no qualms about also buying them frozen at the supermarket. Much like canned tomatoes, frozen peas have been preserved at the peak of their flavor.”

The beauiful tagliatelle at right combines cherry tomatoes and radicchio with hazelnuts and salami for a dish that is like a quick trip to Italy.

Finally, the one-pot pasta dish is easier than easy: Everything goes in the same pot, and the sauce and pasta cook together. It’s the perfect recipe for a young cook – or a very busy one.


Tagliatelle with hazelnuts, salami and radicchio

Serves 4 to 6

When hard salami spends time in a hot pan, the meat’s saltiness comes to the fore – just the right touch in this tangle of flavors.

Use fresh pasta for this. If you can’t find tagliatelle, try fettuccine.

Adapted by The Washington Post from “Angela’s Kitchen: 200 Quick and Easy Recipes,” by Angela Hartnett (Ebury Press, $27.84, 288 pages).


Kosher salt

1/2 cup skinned hazelnuts

1 medium shallot

Leaves from 2 stems flat-leaf parsley

3 1/2 ounces salami of your choice (sliced or in a chunk)

1 small head radicchio

8 ounces cherry tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

12 ounces fresh tagliatelle

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving


Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt.

Meanwhile, toast the hazelnuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, shaking the pan often until they become evenly golden brown and fragrant. Transfer to a cutting board to cool. Finely chop the shallot. Coarsely chop the parsley; keep those two ingredients separate. Cut the salami into thin strips or 1/2-inch dice (depending on whether it was sliced). Cut the radicchio into quarters, then into thin slices. Stem the cherry tomatoes if needed.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the shallot and stir to coat. Cook for about 3 minutes or until just softened.

Stir in the salami; cook for about 1 minute, then add the cherry tomatoes. Increase the heat to medium-high; cook for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to soften and perhaps darken in spots. Mash slightly and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to form a kind of loose sauce. Turn off the heat; season lightly with salt and pepper.

Toss the tagliatelle into the boiling salted water; cook for a few minutes until the pasta has risen to the top and is just al dente. Use tongs to transfer to the sauté pan, shaking off most, but not all, of the cooking water as you go. Stir into the sauce to coat lightly.

Lightly crush the hazelnuts, then add to the pan along with radicchio and parsley. Divide among individual wide, shallow bowls. Serve right away, with the cheese passed at the table.

Per serving (based on 6): 240 calories, 10 g protein, 32 g carbohydrates, 13 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 40 mg cholesterol, 230 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar


One-pot pasta

Serves 6 to 8

Be sure to place this on a large burner with no hot spots, and your meal will be done on time. For extra flavor, stir in a generous spoonful of homemade or store-bought pesto.

Adapted by The Washington Post from “The Family Cooks: 100+ Recipes to Get Your Family Craving Food That’s Simple, Tasty, and Incredibly Good for You,” by Laurie David (Rodale, $27.99, 288 pages).


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion

4 to 6 cloves garlic

1 bunch kale

2 sprigs basil

3 1/2 cups small tomatoes

28 ounces canned, no-salt-added tomatoes with their juices

1 pound whole-grain or whole-wheat fusilli or other shaped pasta

Kosher salt

4 cups water, or more as needed

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)


Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot with a lid over high heat.

Meanwhile, cut the onion into small dice. Mince the garlic (use more or less to taste). Add the garlic to the oil and stir to coat; it will sizzle. Then stir in the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until it is translucent.

While the onion and garlic are cooking, cut the kale leaves away from the stems; coarsely chop the leaves. Discard the stems. Tear the basil leaves.

Cut the fresh tomatoes into halves or quarters and add to the pot along with the canned tomatoes and their juices, the kale, basil, pasta, salt and 4 cups of water.

Cover partially and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and stir to incorporate.

Cook for 9 to 11 minutes, until the pasta is al dente, depending on the pasta shape and pasta package directions. Add water if the pasta looks dry.

Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the crushed red pepper flakes, if using. Remove from the heat and ladle into individual wide, shallow bowls. Pass more Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table.

Serve warm.

Per serving (based on 8): 330 calories, 14 g protein, 52 g carbohydrates, 8 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 105 mg sodium, 9 g dietary fiber, 7 g sugar


Farfalle with pea and feta pesto

Serves 4 to 6

Note: Toast the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until the nuts are golden brown and fragrant. Cool completely before using.

From Washington Post food editor Joe Yonan, author of “Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook” (Ten Speed Press, $24.99, 204 pages).


Kosher salt

1 pound freshly shelled English peas (about 31/2 cups; may substitute frozen/defrosted peas)

12 ounces dried farfalle (or a curly pasta)

2 scallions, trimmed and coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped

One 4-ounce block feta cheese

2 tablespoons packed fresh mint leaves, plus a few more for garnish

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (see note above)


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the peas; cook/blanch just until bright green and tender but not mushy, no more than a few minutes. Scoop out and drain the peas, leaving the water in the pot (over medium-high heat).

Once the water returns to a boil, add the pasta and cook it according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, reserve 1 cup of the peas; transfer the rest to a food processor along with the scallions, garlic, three-fourths of the feta and the mint leaves. Process to form a smooth pesto.

When the pasta is ready, drain it, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Add the pesto and toss, gradually adding a little of the cooking water as needed to create a creamy sauce.

Divide among individual bowls. Top each portion with some of the reserved peas and toasted pine nuts. Crumble some of the remaining feta over each portion, sprinkle a few mint leaves for garnish, and serve warm.

Per serving (based on 6): 360 calories, 15 g protein, 54 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 220 mg sodium, 6 g dietary fiber, 7 g sugar