Pre-Holiday Pasta Bar

#4PM Panic: Pre-Holiday Pasta Bar

This recipe and photos were provided by Sally Roeckell of Table and Dish and were originally published at 365Barrington.com.

With the holiday season in full swing, you might find yourself with a house full of family and/or guests. With all the cooking we will all be doing on each holiday I’m hoping to keep it simple in the days preceding. My gang usually loves a full table of taco fixings so they can create their own dishes so I thought what if I did the same thing with Pasta? It was pretty easy. Most of the sauces were ready made, fresh selections at Heinen’s. Check out the salad bar for roasted vegetables.

To help make life easier, tips for an easy pre-holiday Pasta Bar are of the focus of this week’s Heinen’s 4PM Panic.

  1. CHOOSE 2-3 PASTAS
    Choose your favorite, Spaghetti, Angel Hair, Ziti, Rotini, Ravioli, Tortellini, Macaroni. We also used a gluten free Spinach Fettuccini.
  2. CHOOSE 2-3 SAUCES
    Marinara, Meat, Alfredo, Primavera Cheese Pesto, or brown Butter Sauce.
  3. CHOOSE YOUR TOPPINGS
    Parmesan Cheese, Meatballs, Sausage, Steamed Veggies, Sauteed Greens, Grilled Chicken, Crushed Red Pepper, Roasting Red Pepper, Basil, Bacon, Fresh Herbs, Bread sticks or garlic bread and a big green salad are also a great side.

Sauces and Full Pasta Spread

Directions

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Heat sauce and any other ingredients that need to be cooked. Lay out all ingredients and serve with garlic bread and salad.
  • If you’re serving a crowd the pasta noodles can be cooked al dente before the guests arrive. Before placing them in the serving bowls drain and toss with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil – This prevents the pasta from becoming a big gob and sticking together.
  • Colorful and unique shapes of pasta make the bar fun and interesting – and don’t forget to pick up a gluten free option to accommodate guests with any special dietary needs.
  • The idea behind serving the pasta this way is that heated sauces will be warm enough to heat the noodles once they are tossed together, even after the noodles cool. This method is ideal if your guests will be consuming the pasta shortly after it is served. I was kind of skeptical of this method at first thinking someone would complain of cold pasta, however, this worked beautifully. The sauces can be held in a crock pots at a temperature a little warmer than normal and as the guests are ready to create their own pasta dishes – everything is warm and fresh.

Full Pasta Spread

Walking around Heinen’s looking for options sparked so many ideas. Here are a few favorites.

  • Mini grilled cheese sandwiches with pasta sauce.
  • Large tortellini would be great on a skewer to dip into individual servings of sauces.
  • Breaded eggplant.
  • Cheese fondue for the pasta and toppings on a skewer.
  • Brown Butter with Garlic and Clams.

Ever wonder what pasta goes best with what sauce?

  • Penne + chunky sauces, bolognese and baked pasta dishes.
  • Farfalle + pesto, mac and cheese, creamy sauces.
  • Fusilli + thicker sauces, meat sauce, pasta salad.
  • Spaghetti + classic marinara, pesto, olive oil and butter sauces.
  • Linguine + alfredo, clam sauce and marinara.
  • Shells + Large, stuffed with meat, sauce and cheese. Medium, Pasta salad. Small, Mac and cheese.
  • Orzo and Ditalini + Olive oil sauces, cold salads, wine sauces and soups.

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