You’ll always have a deluxe pasta dinner on hand if you tuck away a bag or two of gourmet pasta in beautiful shapes and colors, along with some jars of roasted peppers, marinated artichoke hearts and good breadsticks. Keep a container of quality, fine-grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese in the freezer, along with some sliced gourmet sausages. When you need an impressive dinner in 15 minutes, just cook the pasta and zap the sausage in the microwave. You can open a jar of sauce, but you don’t even need a formal sauce—just toss the pasta with the grated cheese (straight from the freezer) plus butter or fine olive oil, and offer diners a grind of fresh pepper. Serve with the breadsticks and a roasted pepper and artichoke “antipasto,” drizzled with balsamic vinegar. If you happen to have a loaf of Italian bread and fresh salad greens, so much the better!
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