Another thing we’ve learned this past year: Pasta fatigue is possible.

To use your noodles in new ways, toss them with fresh herbs and vegetables.

Here, spaghetti meets spinach and a lemony basil ricotta; pork-and-fennel meatballs pair up with a brothy orzo.

Pick a hit and let your taste buds do a dance.


12 ounces whole-milk ricotta (1½ cups)

½ teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus whole leaves for serving

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

1 sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla Sweet, thinly sliced (1½ cups)

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

12 ounces fresh spinach, tough stems removed, cut into 2-inch pieces (6 cups)

12 ounces spaghetti

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

In a bowl, combine ricotta, lemon zest and juice, and basil; season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add spinach; season generously and cook, stirring, until just wilted, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a pot of salted boiling water 2 minutes less than per package instructions. Add peas; cook 1 minute more. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain. Add pasta, peas and ¾ cup ricotta mixture to skillet. Reduce heat to low and stir, adding enough reserved pasta water to create a silky sauce; season to taste. To serve, dollop pasta with remaining ricotta mixture, drizzle with more oil and sprinkle with basil leaves.

Active time: 20 minutes; total time: 30 minutes; makes 4 servings.


1 small onion

12 ounces ground pork

1 large egg, beaten

1½ teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed

 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

ž cup orzo (see note)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus wedges for serving

Extra-virgin olive oil and fresh dill sprigs, for serving

Grate onion; squeeze out excess liquid. Transfer to a bowl (you should have ½ cup onion). Add pork, egg, fennel seeds, cheese and ½ teaspoon salt; stir until just combined (do not overmix). With dampened hands, roll mixture into 24 balls, each about 1½ inches in diameter.

In a medium pot, bring broth and 1 cup water to a boil. Add orzo; cook 5 minutes. Add meatballs, reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring once, until cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes more. Stir in lemon juice; season to taste. Serve with a drizzle of oil, more cheese, pepper, dill and lemon wedges.

NOTE: Israeli couscous is a good substitute for the orzo.

Active time: 20 minutes; total time: 35 minutes; makes 4 servings.


8 ounces medium pasta shells

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

10 ounces broccoli, stalks peeled and sliced, florets separated

½ cup panko

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

3 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

3½ cups whole milk

1 cup grated sharp white cheddar

1 can (14 ounces) quartered artichoke hearts, drained

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cook pasta in a pot of salted boiling water 4 minutes. Add broccoli and cook 2 minutes more; drain. Combine panko and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano.

In a saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels. Add butter to pan; melt. Whisk in flour; cook 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk. Bring to a simmer; cook, whisking, until thickened slightly, about 4 minutes. Stir in remaining Parmigiano, cheddar, artichokes, broccoli, pasta and bacon; season to taste. Transfer mixture to a 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with panko mixture. Bake until golden and bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Active time: 20 minutes; total time: 45 minutes; makes 4 servings.


12 ounces penne or other short pasta

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving

1 pound yellow cherry or Sungold tomatoes, halved

½ cup dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc

4 skinless wild salmon fillets (1 pound), preferably Alaskan

½ cup grated Pecorino Romano

Chopped fresh parsley, for serving

Cook pasta in a pot of salted boiling water 1 minute less than per package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain. In a large straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add garlic and red-pepper flakes; cook 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and wine; bring to a boil. Cook until tomatoes burst and liquid is slightly reduced, 6 to 7 minutes. Season fish with salt and pepper; nestle into skillet. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook until just opaque, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer fish to a plate.

Add pasta, cheese and remaining 1 tablespoon butter to skillet with tomatoes; stir over low heat, adding reserved pasta water as needed to create a sauce. Season to taste. Serve with fish, parsley and more red-pepper flakes.

Active time: 15 minutes; total time: 25 minutes; makes 4 servings.

Serves: 4

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