6 Tasty Pasta Recipes With Unusual Ingredients

According to the International Pasta Organization, the average American consumes around 19.4 pounds of pasta every year. Pasta-based dishes are quick and versatile, making them one of the most prominent mainstays in international cuisine.

As delicious as pasta may be, it can still get a little boring if you don’t mix up your ingredients everyone once in a while. Sometimes, plain old spaghetti and marinara just won’t cut it — and that’s when you’re required to think outside of the box. Shake up your dinnertime routine by serving one of these 6 recipes — each featuring an atypical pasta dish ingredient — for dinner.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

1. Pasta With Yogurt Sauce

This pasta dinner is a light, Middle Eastern-inspired change of pace. The recipe drapes a creamy yogurt sauce over your favorite pasta noodles. Best of all, it lends a creaminess to the dish without adding a high fat content to go along with it, and also provides your meal with a generous amount of protein, which will leave you feeling fuller for a longer time. This dish from All Recipes takes about 30 minutes to complete and yields 6-8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16-ounce) package pasta
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (optional)

Directions: Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Using a mortar and pestle, mash the salt and garlic cloves together into a paste. Warm the yogurt slightly in a sauce pan. Remove a small amount of warmed yogurt from the pan, and stir together with the garlic paste. Stir this mixture into the remaining yogurt.

Drain the pasta, and rinse in cold water. Place in a casserole or deep serving dish, toss with 1 tablespoon butter or margarine. Toss with half of the garlic-yogurt sauce. Spread the remaining sauce over the pasta. Garnish with the parsley.

For a very special dish, brown the pine nuts in 2 tablespoons butter or margarine. Pour over the parsley. Serve immediately.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

2. Spaghetti With Strawberries

Fruit and pasta are rarely seen together, but the combination can provide your standard spaghetti dinner with an exciting twist. The recipe, which is posted on Pop Sugar and comes via the Manhattan restaurant Sfoglia, combines the sweetness of strawberries with the tartness of an aged balsamic vinegar to create a unique and complex dish. This recipe takes about 30 minutes to complete and yields 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound good-quality dried spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
  • 1 pound ripe strawberries, cleaned and halved
  • 2 tablespoons good aged (eight-year-old) balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup San Marzano tomato purée
  • 4 ounces reserved pasta water
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated parmesan, for serving (optional)

Directions: Cook the pasta in rapidly boiling salted water until al dente. In a large sauté pan, warm the olive oil and half of the strawberries over medium heat. Cook until the strawberries start to release juice. Add balsamic and reduce by half.

Add tomato purée, the rest of the strawberries, and the reserved pasta water, and reduce by half again until the sauce thickens. Season to taste. Toss with spaghetti. Finish with olive oil and black pepper.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

3. Chocolate Pasta With Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Sauce, White Chocolate Shavings, and Fresh Berries

Up your pasta-making game with the incorporation of hazelnut, chocolate, and berry flavors to this dish made from scratch. This crunchy-creamy mix of sophisticated, slightly sweetened flavors creates a dish with unbeatable texture and character. This recipe from Cooking Channel TV takes about an hour and 5 minutes to complete to complete and yields 6 entrée-sized servings.

Ingredients:

Chocolate Pasta

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Sauce

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup chocolate hazelnut spread, such as Nutella
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 pints raspberries, for garnish
  • Crème fraîche, for garnish
  • White chocolate shavings, for garnish
  • Chopped, skinless, toasted hazelnuts, for garnish

Directions: For the pasta, sift together the flour, cocoa, and sugar. Add a pinch salt and mound the flour mixture in a large bowl or on a clean work surface. Hollow out the center, making a well in the middle of the flour with steep sides. Break the eggs into the well. Add the chocolate syrup and vanilla. Gently mix together with a fork. Gradually start incorporating the flour by pulling in the flour from the sides of the well. As you incorporate more of the flour, the dough will start to take shape. Once it gets thick, you can use a spatula to incorporate the rest of the flour.

If the dough is too dry, add a little water. If the dough is too wet or sticky, add a little flour. Once the dough comes together, knead the dough on a clean work surface until it becomes smooth, about 8 minutes. Shape into a disc, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest in the fridge, 20 to 30 minutes.

Divide your rested dough into quarters and work with one piece at a time, covering your other pieces to keep them moist. Flour each piece lightly, shape it into a rectangular shape, and put it through a pasta sheeter attachment, starting at the widest setting. Run the dough once through the largest setting, fold it into thirds, and run it through one more time. Then run the pasta through the sheeting attachment once on every number, stopping at 5 or 6, depending on how thick you would like it. Lightly flour the rolled out pasta sheet and fold in half. Take your chef knife and cut ribbons about a ½-inch thick, then unravel the pasta ribbons and place on a floured baking sheet to keep from sticking.

For the sauce, bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat and stir in the chocolate-hazelnut spread. Add a pinch salt and continue whisking until the sauce is creamy. Remove from the heat and reserve. Cook the chocolate pasta in a large pot of boiling water, 3 minutes. Immediately remove the pasta from the water and toss gently with the sauce and a little of the pasta cooking water to help with the consistency.

Mound the pasta and sauce on dessert plates and garnish with the fresh berries, a dollop of creme fraiche, white chocolate shavings, and skinless toasted chopped hazelnuts, to garnish.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

4. Linguine With Colatura

According to NPR, the fermented fish sauce colatura dates back to fermented garum, a pungent fish condiment dating back to the Roman Empire. Today’s colatura is produced from salted anchovies and adds a distinct, complex flavor to traditional Italian dishes. This recipe from The New York Times combines this exotic flavor with lemon, garlic, and red pepper to create a powerful pasta dish that your family will love. The dish takes 20 minutes to complete and yields 4-6 servings. If it’s not in your local market, try looking for colatura di alici at Italian shops and online.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound linguine or spaghetti
  • Salt
  • 6 tablespoons colatura (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon packed grated lemon zest (from 1 ½ lemons)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes, more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup minced fresh parsley
  • Coarse sea salt (optional), to taste

Directions: Cook pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions until al dente. In a large bowl, combine colatura, lemon juice, zest, garlic, chili pepper, and black pepper. Drain pasta and add it to bowl, tossing well. Drizzle in olive oil and parsley, toss to combine, and taste. Add salt if desired. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

5. Chicken and Blueberry Pasta Salad

This light pasta salad recipe is a quick way to throw leftover chicken and blueberries together to create a delicious and unusual meal for the family. If you’d like to prepare it ahead of time, add everything except the blueberries and dressing to the pasta salad, then cover and refrigerate for 1 day. Toss remaining ingredients into the mix before serving. This recipe from Eating Well takes 30 minutes to complete and yields 6 servings (each about 1 ½ cups in size).

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed of fat
  • 8 ounces whole-wheat fusilli or radiatore
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Directions: Place chicken in a skillet or saucepan and add enough water to cover; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool. Shred into bite-size strips. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until just tender, about 9 minutes or according to package directions. Drain. Place in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, place oil and shallot in a small skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown, 2 to 5 minutes. Add broth, feta, and lime juice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the feta begins to melt, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken to the bowl with the pasta. Add the dressing, blueberries, thyme, lime zest, and salt and toss until combined.

Source: JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Source: JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

6. Pasta With Salmon Caviar

Salmon eggs are packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids and add a wonderful crunch to this elegant pasta dish. The addition of spices like tarragon unlocks the unique flavors of the caviar, while the addition of sour cream makes the dish somewhat creamy. You can substitute any fish roe in its stead to change up the flavors in this dish. This dish, perfected in the Food & Wine test kitchen, takes just 30 minutes to complete and yields 4-6 first course-sized servings.

Ingredients:

  • Salt
  • ½ pound dry tagliarini or fettuccine
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped tarragon
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut into ½-inch ribbons (½ cup)
  • 4 ounces salmon caviar

Directions: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a large pinch of salt. Add the tagliarini and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving about ½ cup of the cooking water.

In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the minced shallot and cook over moderately low heat for 2 minutes, stirring. Add the crème fraîche, parsley, and tarragon. Stir in about ¼ cup of the reserved pasta cooking water and season with pepper. Add the pasta and smoked salmon ribbons and toss well. Add up to 2 more tablespoons of the reserved cooking water if the pasta seems too dry. Remove from the heat. Add three-fourths of the caviar and toss gently. Serve in shallow bowls, garnished with the remaining caviar.

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