I have the kind of home where people pop in frequently. When they come for dinner, I like to have a few quick dinner recipes at hand, so I can enjoy my guests and not slave in the kitchen. Here is the story on my plate…
Family Time Pasta Bar
This week I was needing some family time, so I invited my son’s family to visit for a casual dinner. I recently picked up some Land O’Lakes Sauté Express flavored butters, which really reduce prep time in the kitchen. These nifty little packages of joy contain all the yummy things you otherwise spend loads of time chopping and dicing. You can find Sauté Express in the dairy section (with the butters) at Walmart.
We all love pasta, but we don’t always love the same toppings on our pasta. So I was inspired to create a pasta bar, where each of us can create our own mix of sauce, meat, veggies, toppings and cheese. A pasta bar is ideal for a large family gathering or an intimate dinner party. Everyone can make it their way. It works beautifully.
Quick Dinner Recipes – Pasta Sauté Express Bar
One of my favorite dinner parties requires getting my guests involved. I decided that a ‘create your own’ pasta bar would do the trick this time. For our Pasta Sauté Bar, I laid out several pastas, toppings, cheeses and sauces. This idea allows each person to be creative and suit themselves. HIMself works the grill sautéing the ingredients for the guests. We have two sauté pans on the fire with a stack of Land O’Lakes Sauté Express Sauté Starters to make the process run smoothly. The Sauté Starters are a quick and easy solution for this process. Just use half a pat for each sautéd dish. My guests could choose between three seasoned butter starters: Italian Herb, Teriyaki or Garlic Herb.
Everyone loved the idea of creating their unique pasta and had fun outdoing each other. To help the process run smoothly, I created some cute cards for each ingredient on the bar.
What’s on the Bar
- Tri-color Rigatoni
- Chicken (cut into bite-sized pieces)
- Crumbled ground round beef
- Pulled pork (shredded)
- Zucchini (cubed)
- Mushrooms (sliced)
- Mini Heirloom Tomatoes (halved)
- Garlic (crushed)
- Onion (diced)
- Fresh Basil from my garden
- Salt & Pepper
- Rebecca’s Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce * (recipe below)
- Rebecca’s Alfredo Sauce * (recipe below)
- Shredded Parmesan Cheese
- Shredded Romano Cheese
- Italian Bread – sliced
Tips and Tricks – Make everything ahead of time. Cut the veggies and grill the meats. Prepare sauces. Place everything in their serving dishes, then cover and stack in the fridge to pull out just before guests arrive. The pasta will need to be cooked just before dinner time. Have two large pots of water simmering on the stove as the guests arrive. After you greet them and serve drinks, get the pasta going. While the pasta is cooking, pull the ingredients from the fridge and place on the table beautifully, then arrange the cards.
Invite guests to create their own pasta and take it to HIMself to sauté. It must have been good as this is the result…
Rebecca’s Pasta Sauces
Rebecca’s Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce
I sometimes simmer a sauce all day and sometimes I hurry the process along.
1 garlic bulb, top cut off to expose the cloves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Cup onions, chopped
1 Cup fresh basil, chopped
1 large bottle of spaghetti sauce. I prefer a chunky variety
1 can tomato paste with pinch of sugar added
Roast the garlic in the butter and salt and pepper until soft about 45 minutes at 375 degrees. Let cool. Place the onion in a sauté pan with a little butter and cook until transparent. Add the other ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Squeeze the garlic out of the skins into the sauce. They should just pop out. Let simmer for two hours.
Rebecca’s Alfredo Sauce
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add cream, milk and simmer for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cheese, blending well. Heat until hot about 10 minutes. Stir in basil and parsley. Serve immediately.
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