8 Insanely Delicious Pasta Recipes

Some cravings can be ignored or curbed with the aid of a lesser substitute. Pasta is not one such craving. Whether you're pining for penne or salivating for spaghetti, there's nothing quite like the real thing. But, don't just hastily toss a box of Barilla into a pot of not-quite-boiling water, sans any thought or inspiration. For once, take a moment to indulge your indulgence and go all out. That's right, it's time to make the best damn pasta you've ever had.
To aid you in your quest, we've rounded up a group of L.A.'s top chefs and foodies, and asked each of them to share their all-time favorite pasta recipe. Ahead, eight incredible pasta recipes to satisfy your cravings and keep safe for many nights to come.
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Photo: Courtesy of JS² Communications.
The Person: David LeFevre, chef and owner of Manhattan Beach Post

The Pasta: Cavatelli with Tomato and Lamb Ragout, Feta, and Basil

"There's something very soulful about handmade pasta, formed one at a time by hand, and hearty lamb ragu slowly simmering while you work. It's a favorite at the restaurant, but also great to make at home since it can be prepared in advance and in a big batch for friends and family to gather."

Ingredients
Serves: 4-6

1 lb “00” Flour (can be found at any Italian market or Specialty Food Store)
1 lb ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 lb ground lamb
1 onion diced
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tbsp garlic, minced
2 oz capers, minced
1 brown anchovy, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup toasted red bell peppers, julienned
1/2 cup tomato concasse, diced
24 oz canned San Marzano tomatoes
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh basil
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp crumbled feta cheese
2 tbsp chiffonade basil

Directions
Note: Dough can be made up to two days in advance. Store finished raw dough in the fridge on a lightly floured tray (unwrapped) until ready for use. Lamb Ragu can be made in advance (or saved for later use) and stored in the refrigerator for up to four days total.

Overview
Prepare the pasta dough first and refrigerate. While dough refrigerates, prepare lamb ragu and allow to simmer. Begin shaping pasta while lamb ragu simmers.

Cavatelli Dough
Make a "well" with “00” flour.
Inside the well, place the eggs, ricotta, and salt.
Slowly combine the ricotta and egg mixture with the flour using a fork until a dough forms.
Once the dough has formed, knead the dough until smooth (about six to ten minutes).
Form the dough into a rectangle shape and refrigerate the dough for at least one hour (preferably overnight).
Using a dough cutter, divide the dough in half and then cut each half into one inch logs.
Roll the logs until they reach a dime size in diameter.
Cut the logs into one inch pieces and then using your thumb, roll them across the gnocchi board to gain grooves.
If you do not have a board you can use the back of a fork.

To Make the Lamb Ragu
Brown ground lamb in a braiser, then set aside.
Use the same braiser to caramelize onions adding chili flakes and garlic.
Once caramelized, add capers and anchovies.
Deglaze with white wine.
Add bell peppers, tomatoes and San Marzano tomatoes.
Add herbs and cinnamon stick.
Season with salt and pepper.
Simmer until desired consistency is reached desired (about one hour).
You can cool at this point and save for later use. Store in a covered container for up to four days.

To Cook the Cavatelli
Heat up a stock pot with boiling salted water, drop the cavatelli in for two to four minutes until “al dente,” then add to the lamb ragu.

For Garnish
Top with crumbled feta cheese and basil.
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Photo: Courtesy of Bread & Butter Public Relations.
The Person: Michael Teich, executive chef and owner of The Wallace

The Pasta: Short Rib Ravioli

“The reason I love this dish is because it is satisfying and warming. It’s rich and decadent without being overwhelming or filling. I think it’s the perfect dish with a nice glass of wine on a cold winter evening.”

Ingredients

Pasta Dough
3 1/2 to 4 cup AP Flour
4 to 5 eggs
1 tbsp EVOO
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Short Ribs
5 lbs short ribs
1 1/2 yellow onion
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
10 whole garlics
7 thymes
3 bay leaves
2 pints red wine
6 pints Chicken Stock

Directions Short Ribs
Combine flour and salt in a food processor, add the rest of the ingredients reserving one egg and ½ cup of flour. Depending on the humidity you might or might not need to add to form a soft dough.

Sear short ribs in a very hot pan, when completely browned on all sides remove from pan and add onions, celery and carrot.

Cook vegetables scraping up all bits off the bottom of the pan, add garlic herbs and return meat to pan.

Add wine and reduce by half, cover with stock and bring to a boil.

Then cover and place in a 350-degree oven for a minimum of three hours and up to four.

Short Rib Filling
Shred cooked shirt rib meat and place in a bowl.

Add confit garlic, and cheeses and combine.

Add reserved and cooled short rib braising liquid just to moisten meat and cheese mixture.

Check for seasoning.
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Photo: Courtesy of Cathy Chaplin.
The Person: Cathy Chaplin, Gastronomy Blog and author of Food Lovers' Guide to Los Angeles

The Pasta: Bolognese Sauce with Cloves and Cinnamon

"The secret to this sauce's fragrant profile and unique flavor is whole cloves and cinnamon sticks. While it might seem strange mingling warm spices with pork, beef, and tomatoes, it works beyond beautifully in this situation. Two hours of slow and low simmering on the stove top marries all of the flavors together, creating a thick, hearty, and complex brew. One bite and it’ll be obvious that this ain’t your average meat sauce."

Ingredients
Serves: 4

Olive oil
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 small onion, chopped
Salt
3/4 lb lean ground beef
3/4 lb lean ground pork
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
2 cinnamon sticks
6-8 cloves
1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1 lb dried spaghetti
Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

Directions
Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add in sliced garlic and cook until its edges are golden, about three minutes. Next, add the chopped onions into the pot and saute until slightly softened and translucent, about five minutes. Season with 1/2 tablespoon of salt while sauteing. Add beef and pork, and increase the heat to high. Cook until the meat is brown, breaking into small pieces with the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Season with an additional 1/2 tablespoon of salt.

Stir in diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, as well as cinnamon sticks and cloves. Reduce heat to low. Simmer with lid slightly ajar until the sauce is thick, stirring occasionally, about 90 to 120 minutes.

When the sauce is just about ready, cook the pasta in a very large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, but still firm to bite. Drain and return the pasta to the same pot. Stir in a ladle of sauce and swish around, lightly coating the noodles. This will keep the pasta from clumping together and imbues the sauce's flavors into the starch. Right before serving, add in fresh parsley to the sauce and incorporate evenly.

Serve the Bolognese atop warm noodles, along with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
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Photo: Courtesy of Annie Campbell.
The Person: Annie Campbell, Après Fête

The Pasta: Cacio e Pepe

"My husband and I first discovered Cacio e Pepe in Rome on a delicious tip from Mr. Anthony Bourdain. The saltiness of the pecorino with the bite of the black pepper is a simple-yet-amazing pairing. We now make our own version, borrowing elements from the also beloved 'spaghetti carbonara': e.g. eggs. This is truly the simplest, yet still impressive, dinner party recipe I know! (It also makes a crowd-pleasing hors d'oeuvre when twisted into forks for a one-bite version)."

Ingredients
Serves: 4

1 pound of fresh spaghetti
1 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
1/2 cup pecorino, plus more for grating on top
3⁄4 cup cacao de roma
4 organic eggs
4 tbsp good butter, room temperature
1⁄2 cup reserved pasta water
2 tsp freshly grated black pepper
A generous pinch of Malden sea salt, more to taste

Directions
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Gather and measure all of your ingredients, cracking the eggs into a small bowl.

Boil pasta according to directions, a minute or two under, until al dente.

Before draining, reserve a cup of the pasta water.

Drain pasta and then toss with the cheeses, egg, butter, salt and black pepper. Taste for seasoning.

Divide into four bowls and top with extra pecorino. Enjoy!
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Photo: Courtesy of Bread & Butter Public Relations.
The Person: Brandon Boudet, Dominick’s and Little Dom’s

The Pasta: Spaghetti and Meatballs

“It is an Italian American Dish! It’s Iconic! Spaghetti and meatballs was one of the main building blocks in creating Dominick's. It is a special dish that I feel evokes great memories to a lot of people.”

Instructions

Meatballs
2 1/2 lb ground pork
2 1/2 lb ground beef
1 1/2 cups soffritto (see Tomato Sauce recipe), sautéed for 3 minutes
1 tbsp ground fennel seeds
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp porcini mushroom powder
1 cup mushrooms, sautéed for 5 minutes
4 cups bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 tbsp salt

Tomato Sauce
6 28-oz cans of tomatoes, passed through food mill
4 cups soffritto (3 ribs of celery, 1 large yellow onion, 3 cloves garlic, 1/4 bunch parsley), chopped
1 bunch each of basil and oregano, wrapped in cheese cloth
1 tsp sugar
3 tbsp tomato paste
3 tsp salt
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

Meatballs
Mix all ingredients in a kitchen mixer or by hand. Using a 2 1/2 oz ice cream scoop, scoop meat mixture into balls to form meatballs. Bake on sheet pan lined with parchment paper for 15 minutes at 375°F.

Tomato Sauce
Add olive oil to pot. Add soffritto and sauté for three minutes. Add salt, sugar, pepper flakes and tomato paste and sauté for two minutes. Add canned tomatoes and simmer for 3 hours. Add basil and oregano and leave in sauce until completely cooled to infuse flavor.

Serve tomato sauce and meatballs over cooked spaghetti. Enjoy.
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Photo: Courtesy of Claire Thomas.
The Person: Claire Thomas, The Kitchy Kitchen

The Pasta: Shrimp Fra Diavolo

"Time is really the star ingredient in this recipe. Letting the onions soften until almost melting in texture, the sauce simmering until reduced to a rich combination of bright white wine and tomatoes, all of those complex flavors owe their awesomeness to you (or me, in this case) catching up on Nashville (shhhh…It’s my guilty pleasure show!) while folding laundry. Sometimes being a great home cook means letting the stove do the work. The result is a sauce filled with depth and a little heat, plump and perfectly cooked shrimp, all soaked up by your favorite pasta or rice. So, sit back, and let the stove take care of the heavy lifting. Enjoy!"

Ingredients
Serves: 6

1 cup olive oil
3 large onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups dry white wine
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
14 oz canned whole tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth
Pinch chili flakes
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
4 tbsp butter

Directions
Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat, and season with salt and pepper. When the onions are yellow, not brown (15-20 minutes), add uncooked shrimp. Let it all simmer for about five minutes, the shrimp should be quite pink. Then add the wine. Simmer for another five minutes more over medium heat. Remove shrimp from sauce with slotted spoon.

Stir the canned tomatoes and tomato paste into the liquid, and cook five minutes. Add chicken broth and chili flake, and let simmer very slowly for about an hour, until the sauce is very thick and quite reduced.

When ready to serve, return the shrimps into the sauce. Add chopped parsley and butter. As soon as the butter is melted, pour the sauce over pasta, rice, or whatever you like.
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Photo: Courtesy of Valleybrink Road.
The Person: Barrett Prendergast, Valleybrink Road

The Pasta: Rigatoni WIth Bolognese

"I love how hearty and comforting this bolognese dish is. It makes you want to curl up by the fire and get cozy."

Ingredients
Serves: 4-6

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp organic unsalted butter, plus 1 tbsp for tossing with the pasta
1/2 cup chopped organic yellow or white onion
1 organic carrot, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of organic celery chopped
1 lb grass-fed ground beef, do not use a lean cut, the more marbled the meat the sweeter the ragu 1 cup organic whole milk
1 cup dry white or red wine ( I used red for this batch)
Whole nutmeg
2 1/2 cup canned imported Italian plum tomatoes with juices
1 1/4 lbs pasta, I like to use rigatoni
Sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Fresh italian parsley

Directions
Put the oil and butter in a pot and turn the heat to medium. Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Stir to coat and cook until the onions have become translucent and the vegetables have started to soften, around five minutes.

Add the ground beef, a generous pinch of salt, and some cracked pepper. Stir well and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.

Add the milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until all liquid has bubbled away. This may take a while, so be patient. After the milk has evaporated, add a tiny grating of the nutmeg and stir.

Add the wine and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until all the liquid has bubbled away. Once the liquid is gone, add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat the ingredients. Once the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down to the laziest simmer and cook the sauce, uncovered for three hours, stirring from time to time. If the sauce looks like it is drying out, simply add half a cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left. Taste and correct for salt and pepper.

When ready to eat, toss cooked drained pasta with a tablespoon of butter and top with a generous scoop of bolognese. Sprinkle with a little chopped parsley and serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.
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Photo: Courtesy of Allison Lindkvist.
The Person: Chef Andrea Cavaliere, Cecconi's

The Pasta: “Plin” Agnolotti

"Plin agnolotti is my favorite signature dish at Cecconi's and is a traditional pasta from the Piedmont region in Italy where I was raised. It's a land of food delicacies and great wine. Agnolotti can be served with melted butter, shaved truffles when in season, in chicken broth as a soup or 'al tovagliolo' (on a napkin — dim sum-style)."

Ingredients
Serves: 12

Pasta Dough
1 1/4 lb “00” flour (Italian flour)
6 whole eggs, plus 1 yolk
Water if needed (to adjust)

Filling
Olive oil
8 oz diced beef shortrib
3 oz mirepoix of carrot, celery, and onions
1 oz pancetta
1/4 cabbage
60ml red wine
1 clove garlic, minced
2 oz spinach leaves
3 oz grana padano, grated
1 fresh bay leaf
1/2 fresh nutmeg, grated

Sauce
1 stick butter
24 fresh sage leaves
3 oz grated parmigiano
2 tbsp vegetable stock or water

Directions
Pile the flour onto a counter/cutting board, making an indent in the center like a volcano. Crack eggs into the center, and use a fork to slowly incorporate it into the flour, taking caution not to form clumps. Mix thoroughly, adding water if dough feels crumbly. Allow to rest for 30 minutes wrapped in cling wrap.

In a large pot, sauté the beef in olive oil, then add the vegetables until dark brown on all sides. Deglaze in red wine, add bay leaves and allow to reduce by half and chill. In a separate pan, sauté the spinach with garlic, oil and salt. Cook completely as to remove most of the liquid, remove to chill and drain. Combine all remaining ingredients. Remove and discard bay leaves and mince the remaining ingredients in a grinder and fill piping bag.

Roll out the dough into sheets using a pasta maker. Squeeze out a large pea-sized amount of stuffing spaced 1/2" apart, one inch from the bottom. Fold bottom over with 1/4" overlap and then use a ridged pasta wheel to cut the entire row and separate. Pinch the gaps between filling, then cut in the space, making wrapped candy size pieces. Repeat with rest of pasta dough and filling.

In a very hot pan add butter, cook until browned, then lower heat and add the sage leaves to fry. Meanwhile, bring large salted pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for five to six minutes. Once the sauce is translucent, add the stock and allow to emulsify, then return pasta to pan, remove from heat and toss vigorously while sprinkling the grated cheese. Plate immediately and serve.
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