Ina Garten Claims Her Easy Weeknight Pasta Dinner Is So Perfect It ‘Will Solve All Your Problems’

Ina Garten has the perfect weeknight pasta dinner she says “will solve all your problems” after having a bad day. The Barefoot Contessa star’s easy recipe combines pasta, vegetables, and pancetta all in one dish, topped with a dollop of ricotta cheese and a sprinkle of parmesan.

Ina Garten toasts with a glass of wine while wearing a blue denim shirt on 'Sunday Today'
Ina Garten | Mike Smith/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Ina Garten makes an easy pasta recipe with ‘big flavor’

Garten demonstrated how to make her easy pasta recipe on an episode of Barefoot Contessa. “Shells with broccoli rabe and pancetta is one of those pasta dishes with big flavor,” she shared. “And the first one is the broccoli rabe.”

Garten started by cooking the vegetable briefly. “What I did was I chopped it up in big pieces and blanched it for two minutes,” the Food Network host explained. “You don’t want to overcook it, otherwise it’s going to get too soggy and it turns brown.”

She continued, “This is a really classic Italian vegetable. And strangely, isn’t even related to broccoli but it’s got great flavor, a little bit more bitter.”

Garten shares some easy tips for the dish

As she cooked the pasta dinner, Garten imparted some of her cooking wisdom. “And here’s the trick in this dish — I’m going to save the water and I’m going to cook the pasta in exactly the same water,” the Barefoot Contessa star explained.

She poured the pasta shells into the water and cooked them for 8 to 10 minutes. “I’m using shells for this dish because I love that the pancetta and the broccoli rabe get caught in that little opening in the shells,” Garten explained. “It’s a great pasta for this.”

Next, Garten got to work cooking the pancetta. “And the key to this is I don’t actually ask the butcher to slice it because they always slice it too thin. And I want a quarter-inch dice, which means it has to be a quarter inch thick.”

She continued, “So I just do it myself.” After dicing it, she cooked the pancetta in a sauté pan until it started to brown. Garten added minced garlic to the pan and advised cooking it “just until you can smell it.” She explained, “You don’t want it to burn.” Garten sprinkled in some hot red pepper flakes as well, sharing, “Remember, I said this isn’t boring.”

Garten added the broccoli rabe back to the pan and used a strainer utensil to scoop the shells out and add them to the pan. “And you want some of the water to come with it,” she explained. “The starch in the pasta water really helps thicken the sauce.”

After stirring everything together, Garten noted that more pasta water can be added to the pan if the dish is dry. She added salt and pepper to the dish as well. “Seasoning is so important,” Garten noted. “You can have the most delicious pasta dish but if it doesn’t have enough seasoning, it’s really boring. It makes all the difference in the world.”

The ‘Barefoot Contessa’ star claims her pasta dinner ‘will solve all your problems’

Once the dish was heated through, Garten spooned a serving into a big bowl, noting, “It’s one thing and it’s got everything you need for dinner in it — vegetables, pasta, pancetta.”

She added a scoop of fresh ricotta on top as well as parmesan cheese. “And then as you eat it, you can just blend it all together,” the Barefoot Contessa star explained. “Kind of that hot and cold thing.”

Garten continued, “And that is what I would call a weeknight dinner. It’s really satisfying, it’s really comforting. Bad day at the office? This will solve all your problems.”

After taking a bite, she gushed, “It’s so good. It’s got so much flavor.”

The full recipe is available on the Food Network website.

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