The salad days of summer are long gone and now a good hearty, hot meal is in order to warm the soul and chase the chill.

Pasta is my go to for a quick, satisfying, and economical dinner. There are so many varieties of this truly international food. I love all the Asian noodles used in dishes from pad Thai to pho, as well as German spaetzle, Greek orzo and Polish pierogis. Pasta was thought to be first made by Asian cultures and brought to Italy from China by Marco Polo in the 13th century. The rest is history.

In Italian word pasta refers to “paste” because the dough is made from a simple combination of flour and water, with sometimes egg and olive oil. Making pasta dough can be quick work with a dough hook on a stand mixer, but there are many good fresh pastas available at grocery stores as well as good dried pastas such as De Cecce. Locally I have found Ronzoni’s Homestyle dried pasta to be good.

Italian pasta comes in over 350 shapes and sizes from long pasta, short pasta, pasta for filling and pasta for soups. Some shapes and sizes are better for holding sauces in their ridges, while others are better for baked dishes. In colder weather I like the hearty texture of a pappardelle or fettuccine paired with a nice hearty ragu, or sauce with meat.

This week I have included a recipe for a nice autumnal pasta. Pumpkin and Sausage Fettuccine can be prepared quickly with a packaged fresh or dried pasta, or with homemade fettuccine or pappardelle.


Cheryl Orr is owner of the Cotton Gin Inn.