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11 Italian Pasta Dishes You Can Always Count On (Recipes)

There's something stress relieving about cooking pasta for dinner. It could be because you don't have to turn on the oven. It could be because it's ready in about half an hour and only leaves a pot and a bowl to wash. Or it could be because you know it's going to turn out pretty darn tasty -- because that's just what pasta does. 

No one knows pasta quite like the Italians do, so here is a compilation of scrumptious, simple and Italy-approved pasta recipes. Consider it a plan for your next month of dinners.

1. Orecchiette Bolognese

My mom made this Barefoot Contessa dish at least once a month at home, and my mouth watered an embarrassing amount each time I smelled the tomato sauce wafting from the kitchen. The magic comes from the nutmeg. Or maybe the crushed red pepper flakes. Or it could be the cream. . .

2. Cacio e Pepe

One of Rome's signature pastas, the inexpensive yet scrumptious cacio e pepe comes together with just five ingredients -- two of them salt and pepper and one of them, believe it or not, water. The starchy water you use to cook the pasta is crucial for the cheesy sauce; reserve it until the end, quickly mix with cheese and pepper, and stir into the pasta. You're left with a rich, peppery white sauce, no cream or butter necessary. 

3. Spaghetti Carbonara

You have not lived until you've eaten pasta doused in carbonara sauce: a mixture of guanciale (like pancetta or bacon), eggs (mostly yolks), cheese and pepper. The key is to toss the cooked pasta with the crispy pork cheek so it soaks up its fatty, salty goodness. The additions of egg and cheese make a silky smooth sauce, and the pepper adds a spicier element to cut through the richness. It is utter heaven.

4. Bucatini all'Amatriciana

Onion, garlic and crushed red pepper are a winning combination in this spicy Roman favorite. Combine them with pancetta, cheese and tomato sauce for a pasta dish everyone will love. This handy recipe includes both the "chef" version and an easier version.

5. Penne alla Norcina

Sausage and white wine and cream, oh MY! This flavorful, filling dish from the mountains of Italy comes together in less than half an hour -- and its aromas alone will make your day. Tip from the chef: buy a block of cheese, instead of a bag of the shredded stuff, and grate it yourself so it stays fresher. 

6. Lasagna

This crowd-pleasing dish does take a bit of elbow grease, but the luscious layers and comforting taste (and leftovers on deck) are well worth it. Don't forget that a little extra cheese never hurt nobody.

7. Angel Hair Pasta with Pesto

Sometimes, the simplest recipes just hit the spot. Achieve Food Network-level pesto prettiness with fresh basil, pine nuts and plenty of olive oil.

8. Gnocchi alla Sorrentina

Stir cheesy tomato basil sauce over gnocchi. Top gnocchi with yet more cheese (mozzarella and Parmesan, two superior varieties). Bake until melting and bubbling. Feast until enlightened by this Sorrento-style gnocchi.

9. Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms and Artichokes

This earthy, hearty sauce will please your taste buds and your mind, since you're sneaking in a serving of veggies with your pasta.

10. Gnudi with Butter and Sage

Gnudi are little balls of ricotta and Parmesan rolled in flour, so making this is quite fun and reminiscent of your Play-Doh days. Roll the gnudi in the morning, let them rest in the fridge while you're at work, and come home to dinner in no time. Toss the cooked gnudi in buttery, crispy sage leaves, top with extra nutmeg and Parmesan and enjoy straight away.

11. Linguine with Clam Sauce

Feel like you're basking in the sun on the coast of Italy with this light and fresh, yet highly satisfying pasta with clams. Pair it with a glass of white wine, and you won't believe you're not on vacation!