Technique: How to make pantry pasta sauces

Two ways to dress up your noodles

We'll happily slurp a plate of spaghetti and meatballs anytime. But because that dish takes a bit of time to prepare, we usually save it for Sunday supper. For a quicker pasta meal, try these weekday dishes for two. Both can be made in a flash:

Aglio e Olio: In a large pot, boil ½ pound of spaghetti in salted water until al dente. While the pasta cooks, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add 4 cloves of slivered garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds; then add a pinch of red pepper flakes. Drain the pasta, reserving about a cup of the cooking water. Add some of the cooking water to the garlic in the pan and cook until it reduces a bit. Add some salt, then add the drained pasta to the garlic mixture and toss to coat. Remove from heat and stir in a small handful of chopped parsley and about ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Tuna: In a large pot, boil ½ pound of orecchiette or penne in salted water until al dente. While the pasta cooks, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add 2 cloves of sliced garlic and 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes release their juices. Add one 3-ounce can of olive-oil packed tuna and its oil, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up the tuna chunks. Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Reduce heat to low, add the reserved pasta cooking water to the tomato mixture, then add the cooked pasta and ½ cup pitted, chopped kalamata olives. Toss to coat, then remove from heat and add a handful of chopped basil leaves.