Simple, Elegant Pasta Dinners: 75 Dishes with Inspired Sauces, written by Nikki Marie, features an incredible variety of classic and innovative pasta dishes perfect for weeknights, date nights, and everything in-between. A few highlights include Pasta with Fried Eggs, Mezze Penne with Grilled Peaches and Rosemarry, Rigatoni with Dark Cocoa and Red Wine Short Rib Ragu, Fresh Spinach Fettuccine Carbonara, Bucatini with Rapini in Pepper Oil, and Toasted Spaghetti Aglio e Olio. I will also be sharing her recipe for White Wine Linguine following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Page Street Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and statements are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Nikki Marie is the creator of the food blog, Chasing the Seasons. Her work has been nominated for a Saveur Blog Award (Best New Voice in 2017) and was recognized by the New Jersey State Department of Agriculture’s Jersey Fresh Love campaign. She is currently based in Hackettstown, New Jersey with her husband and two children.
Simple, Elegant Pasta Dinners
As with her blog Chasing the Seasons, Nikki has divided the pasta dishes based on season: Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer. The contents also have a list of the included recipes with page number for easy reference.
Before getting to the recipes, Nikki begins with a short guide on both fresh and dried pasta. She explains the best pairings for pasta shapes, how to cook pasta and for how long, reserving cooked pasta water, and how to make/store fresh pasta with step-by-step instructions and photos.
She also provides the photography. Every single recipe is accompanied by a full page photo of the finished dish. Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric. Titles are written in English and occasionally Italian. Each recipe has a headnote with background information, personal stories, tips, cooking notes, and serving size.
Simple, Elegant Pasta Dinners is a great pick for pasta lovers looking for a mixture of classic and modern flavors. I have a lot of pasta cookbooks. Probably even a few more than necessary if you ask my husband. This one has quickly become one of my favorites for breaking up our weekday meal routine. I absolutely love the huge range of seasonal ingredients without the need for complicated techniques. Most of the items are readily available in the average grocery store. A few that may require further searching include cranberries, pancetta, Genoa salami, burrata, red dandelion greens, fresh fiddleheads, broccolini, rapini, and morels.
White Wine Linguine
I share a red wine pasta last year (Spaghetti All’Ubriaco/Drunken Spaghetti– Nikki also includes a recipe for Red Wine Spaghetti with Swiss Chard) and was so excited to come across a white wine version in this book!
This White Wine Linguine takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and is a wonderful option for an elegant date night. Dried linguine noodles are boiled just until pliable, then finish cooking in a seasoned Sauvignon Blanc sauce. The linguine soaks in all the flavor, is tossed with butter, and served immediately with freshly ground black pepper, grated cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Don’t have linguine on hand? Substitute with another long pasta shape.
The White Wine Linguine uses an entire bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. Nikki recommends using a modest price point wine.
Other Pasta Dishes
I also made the Ravioli with Port Wine and Mushroom Sauce, Fresh Spaghetti with Crisp Salami and Burrata, Orzo with Crispy Scallions and Goat Cheese, and Spinach and Avocado Linguine.
The recipe for Ravioli with Port Wine and Mushroom Sauce comes from the Autumn section. Cooked ravioli are gently folded with a rich port wine and mushroom sauce seasoned with shallots, butter, and rosemary.
The Fresh Spaghetti with Crisp Salami and Burrata from the Winter chapter is one of my new favorite ways to enjoy spaghetti. Fresh spaghetti noodles are cooked just until al dente and tossed with crisp salami, a little Sauvignon Blanc, and freshly ground pepper. It is topped with a dollop of burrata cheese and a drizzle of olive oil right before serving.
The springtime Orzo with Crispy Scallions and Goat Cheese is another easy dish packed with flavor. Scallions are massaged with olive oil and broiled until starting to char and blister. They are then roughly chopped and paired with al dente orzo, butter, and crumbled goat cheese. Nikki also includes some ideas to mix in some asparagus, peas, mushrooms, or other leftovers you may have on hand.
The Spinach and Avocado Linguine also comes from the Spring chapter. This was a great green pasta for the kids. While the linguine is cooking, the sauce is created by simply blending together the avocados, spinach, cheese, garlic, thyme, and lemon juice. Everything is tossed together with pasta water to help thin the sauce. If desired, you can also serve the pasta with shrimp, salmon, or grilled chicken.
White Wine Linguine Recipe
Excerpt from Simple, Elegant Pasta Dinners
White Wine Linguine
- Kosher salt to taste
- 1 pound (454 grams) linguine or any other long pasta
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 1 clove garlic smashed and thinly sliced
- 1 bottle (25 ounce, 740 ml) Sauvignon Blanc
- 1 cup (240 ml) chicken broth
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup (25 grams) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or local cheese with a hard and sharp profile, plus more to garnish
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) butter
- You'll need a stockpot and a 12-inch (30 cm) skillet with deep sides. We'll be working with both at the same time.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Generously salt and add the pasta. Boil until the pasta can fully bend while still undercooked, about 5 to 6 minutes. Reserve 2 cups (480 ml) of the pasta water before draining. Drain well.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in the skillet over low-medium heat. When hot and shimmery, add the garlic, stirring often until golden, about 3 minutes, taking care not to burn the garlic or it will taste bitter. Remove the skillet from the heat to carefully add the bottle of white wine, which may splatter at first. Add the broth and raise the heat to medium-high to bring the contents to a boil.
- Add the parboiled pasta to the skillet and 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the reserved pasta water. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Keep the mixture at a boil and use tongs to toss frequently to prevent sticking.
- Cook until the pasta is al dente, tender yet firm to the bite, and the liquid has been largely absorbed, though not entirely, tossing frequently, about 10 minutes. Add a little more of the reserved pasta water if the pasta absorbs too much. Keep a watchful eye as cooking times will differ depending on the type and brand of pasta.
- While continuously tossing, add the grated cheese, a little at a time. By adding small amounts and tossing, the cheese will melt more evenly and will not stick to the bottom of the pan. Again, use more of the reserved pasta water, if necessary. Toss well. The pasta should be loose and silky and will continue to thicken upon standing.
- Turn off the heat and add the butter, gently tossing to create a silky glaze. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.
- To serve, drizzle lightly with olive oil, a few turns of freshly ground pepper and more grated cheese. Serve immediately.