6 Simply Sophisticated Pasta Dinners to Serve on Christmas Eve

From wrapping last-minute gifts to putting the final touches on your Yuletide feast, the final days leading up to Christmas tend to be a scramble. With all this (and more) to worry about, the last thing any host needs on Christmas Eve is a laborious and time-consuming recipe to tackle for dinner. Instead of wasting your precious time over the stove the night before Christmas, choose one of these six simple and elegant pastas for a Christmas Eve dinner that every guest will savor.

Source: iStock

1. Fettuccini Alle Cipolle With Lamb

For a dish that is unparalleled in heartiness, treat your friends and family members to Food Republic’s Fettuccini Alle Cipolle With Lamb this holiday. Tender lamb is soaked in wine and stock, then combined with a rosemary-infused sauce to achieve sumptuous flavors befitting the holiday season. Soft fettuccine noodles form the base of the dish, culminating in a tasteful, easy-to-make masterpiece worthy of Italy itself.  The recipe takes an hour to complete, including cook time.

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large onions, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 7 ounces ground lamb
  • ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon white wine
  • 1¼ cups vegetable stock
  • 14 ounces fettuccine
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Directions: In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions, carrot, and rosemary over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until softened and golden, 5 minutes.

Add the lamb and mix well, allowing the meat to crumble. Cook, stirring frequently, until the meat has browned all over, 5 minutes. Pour in the wine and cook for another 3 minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate. Season with salt and pepper, and pour in the stock.

Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.

Drain the pasta and immediately add to the meat sauce. Increase the heat to high and gently mix the sauce and the pasta together for 30 seconds, stirring continuously, to allow the sauce to coat the pasta evenly. Serve immediately, topped with the freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Source: iStock

2. Chicken Scallopine

The Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Scallopine is simple, savory, and sensational — a Christmas Eve trifecta in our book. The dish combines linguine with buttery mushrooms and incorporates dry white wine, which lends the sauce a slight bite. Heavy cream provides a smooth, decadent character, which is complemented by the addition of piquant and salty capers. The dish takes 30 minutes to make and serves 6 holiday guests.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound linguine
  • 6 whole chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, and trimmed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 12 ounces white mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Chicken broth (optional)
  • 1 whole lemon
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 heaping teaspoon capers
  • Chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Parmesan cheese, for topping

Directions: Cook pasta according to package directions.

Flatten chicken breasts to uniform thickness. Salt and pepper both sides, then dredge in flour. Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry chicken breasts until golden brown. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Throw mushrooms into the pan and stir. Immediately pour in wine and chicken broth (optional), and then squeeze juice of ½ to 1 lemon. Stir to deglaze the pan, and then cook vigorously for 1 minute, until sauce reduces.

Pour in cream and stir, then add capers and parsley and stir. Turn off heat. Stir and add salt and pepper to taste. Place pasta and chicken on a platter and top with every last drop of sauce. Generously sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top.

Source: iStock

3. Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is arguably the quintessential comfort food, but this Rosemary Mac and Cheese from My Baking Addiction brings the dish to a whole new level. Rigatoni and tender shredded chicken are smothered in a rich sauce consisting of heavy cream, goat cheese, garlic, and rosemary, all culminating in a hassle-free holiday dish that’s sure to please a crowd. The recipe takes 40 minutes to make and yields 8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound dried rigatoni
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, crushed
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 cups shredded roasted chicken
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions: Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a rapid boil. Add the oil and rigatoni to the water and cook according to the directions on the package, 10 to 12 minutes.

While you are waiting for the water to boil, pour the cream into a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the rosemary and garlic to the cream and bring it to a simmer — take care not to let it boil over. Allow the cream to reduce by about half.

Stir in the goat cheese and chicken, and continue cooking cooking it until the cream coats the back of a spoon. Thoroughly drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the sauce. Coat the pasta in the sauce and simmer over low heat for a few minutes. Serve hot.

Source: iStock

4. Skillet Baked Ziti With Sausage

There’s nothing more welcome in a hectic holiday kitchen than a quick and easy one-skillet meal, and Tracey’s Culinary Adventures offers just that. This Skillet Baked Ziti With Sausage is made up of soft ziti noodles draped in a browned sausage and tomato sauce. Adding heavy cream and Parmesan cheese lends a rich, creamy character to the dish. Bring your dish to a comforting, crispy finish in the oven for best results. The dish takes about 30 minutes and yields 1 (12-inch) skillet full of warm, enticingly cheesy ziti.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 pound Italian sausage (hot or sweet), casings removed
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 12 ounces ziti
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ¼ chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions: Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add the tomatoes to the bowl of your food processor and pulse until there aren’t any large pieces left, about 12 pulses.

Set a 12-inch skillet over medium heat and add the sausage. Cook until the sausage is no longer pink, using a wooden spoon to break the sausage up and stir occasionally. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook just until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and the salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the mixture to simmer gently for about 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes don’t taste raw anymore.

Add the water and pasta to the pan. Cover pan and turn up the heat to medium to medium-high, maintaining a vigorous simmer. Cook, stirring frequently to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan, for about 15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. The pasta will not have absorbed all the liquid in the pan.

Add the heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, and parsley to the pan. Stir to incorporate, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Top the pasta with the mozzarella cheese, then transfer the pan to the oven and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and browned.

Source: iStock

5. Garlic Parmesan Chicken Lasagna Bake

Garlic-Parmesan Chicken Lasagna Bake could just be the quick solution you need for your Christmas Eve dinner this year. The dish packs in lasagna noodles, shredded chicken, and cheeses, resulting in a cozy holiday offering that everyone will crave. A Pinch Of Yum recommends using rotisserie chicken to save time while also lending a bit of extra flavor to the pasta. Buttery garlic sauce brings the dish to a wonderfully satisfying completion. This recipe yields 9 to 12 servings, each containing 313 calories and packed with 22.7 grams of protein.

Ingredients:

For the lasagna

  • 10 to 15 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 12 ounces frozen peas
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Fresh herbs for topping

For the sauce

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1½ tablespoons minced garlic
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups milk

Directions: Make the sauce – Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant; stir continuously to avoid burning, because burnt garlic will taste bitter. Add the flour, poultry seasoning, and salt. Whisk and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the milk, one cup at a time, whisking after each addition and allowing it to thicken slightly each time before adding the next cup. When the sauce is smooth and thick, remove from heat and set aside.

Layer the lasagna – Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan and preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover the bottom of the pan with about 5 broken lasagna noodles, half of the chicken, half of the peas, ¼ cup Parmesan, ⅓ cup water, and 1½ cups sauce. Repeat this layer once more. Top with a layer of broken noodles, ⅓ cup water, 1½ cups sauce, and ½ cup Swiss cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

To assemble – Remove the foil, sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs, and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Sprinkle with fresh herbs like parsley and thyme. Let stand 10 minutes or more before cutting and serving.

Source: iStock

6. Spaghetti Carbonara

A simple Spaghetti Carbonara will delight and satisfy any guest for the holidays. The dish combines spaghetti noodles with sharply-flavored bacon, as well as garlic, onion, eggs, and cheese, making it an ideal dish for a cold winter’s day. Toward the end of preparation, be sure to add the cheese-egg mixture to the dish so as to avoid scrambling your eggs. Depending on the saltiness of the bacon used, you may wish to add salt to taste. The Chic Site’s recipe takes only about 15 minutes to make, yields 2 to 3 servings, and can easily be multiplied.

Ingredients:

  • ½ pound dried spaghetti
  • 4 slices of thick-cut bacon (about 4 ounces), cut into small cubes
  • ¾ cup diced onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced thin (horizontally)
  • 1 heaping cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped, as needed to garnish
  • Grated Parmesan cheese and black pepper, for serving

Directions: Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook to al dente according to pasta package directions. Before draining cooked pasta, reserve about ½ cup of pasta water.

In a large skillet, sauté bacon over medium-heat high. As the bacon cooks, fat will render. You will use that fat to cook and flavor the remaining ingredients.

Once bacon is about ⅔ done cooking, add garlic. Stir to combine. Cook for about 30 seconds and then add onions.

Cook until onions have softened and are translucent, and bacon is browned and crisp. Meanwhile, while bacon mixture is cooking, in a small bowl, whisk together eggs until homogenous. Add Parmesan cheese and black pepper, and stir to combine. Set aside.

Add drained pasta to skillet. Remove from heat.

Pour cheese-egg mixture over pasta, using kitchen tongs to toss and distribute ingredients together. The heat from the pasta and bacon mixture is enough to cook the eggs. As the cheese melts, continue to toss pasta with tongs to evenly coat noodles with sauce. If pasta looks dry, add 1 tablespoon of reserved pasta and toss. Garnish with parsley, generously add additional ground black pepper and grated Parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately.

More from Life Cheat Sheet: