If you’re struggling to find inspiration (and time) for weeknight cooking, you might want to take a closer look at the simple pasta. While basics like mac and cheese, spaghetti bolognese and pasta alfredo are a standard in many homes, they might need an overhaul if you’ve been cooking them for years.
Here are 3 pantry staples you can use to level up your next weeknight pasta:
Basil is a staple in all Italian kitchens. With its strong scent and distinct flavor profile, this herb has the potential to add a special something extra to many different pasta dishes. From the classic tomato and basil pairing in a marinara or bolognese sauce to a simple olive oil, garlic, and basil pasta, this is one herb that delivers time and time again.
Pro tip: You can use our dried basil to make your own pesto ahead of time. This is perfect for busy days when you get home late and don’t feel like cooking. You can simply put the pasta on to cook for 10 minutes while you have a shower, then drain the pasta, stir in the pesto and settle down in front of the TV and watch a re-run of Friends.
#2 Chili Flakes
Basil, along with garlic flakes and most other herbs and spices, plays really well with chili flakes. An easy option that always goes down well is olive oil, garlic flakes, basil, and chili flakes with a jar of passata for a no-fuss healthy pasta sauce that’s ready in minutes.
Pro tip: For cold evenings, try adding in a sprinkle of chili flakes to your favorite pasta dish and enjoy the taste sensation. Chili flakes work well in a spaghetti bolognese, ragu, or Aglio e olio pasta sauce.
Thyme is amongst the most widely used herb in pasta dishes, and it has the added bonus of being high in Vitamin C, fiber, and iron making it a nutrient-rich powerhouse in your pantry.
Pro tip: To get the best flavors from your Thyme, add it at the beginning of the cooking process.
These three herbs and spices are just the tip of the iceberg, as no pantry in a pasta-loving home would be complete without parsley, rosemary, oregano, and sage (among others!).
Remember that you’re the boss in the kitchen and can experiment with your herbs and spices until you find a combination that you love. And, pasta dishes are really forgiving so, if you forget to add your herbs and spices while cooking, they can always be added as a garnish after.