Dinner in a Blink: Pasta al Pastore

Everyone should have a few dishes up their sleeve that they can make on auto-pilot with minimal fuss/clean-up for those days when things just are too hectic (everyday at our house!).  Dishes that even a complete “self-professed non-cook” (Yes, Gina & Bonnie, I am talking about you guys 🙂 ) can make.  I have a few of them:

Curried Chicken Drumsticks with Carrots

Slow-cooker Chicken Verde

Steamed Fish with Ginger & Scallions

Quick Baked Chicken Dinner

Pasta with Broccoli and Breadcrumbs

Effortless Enchiladas

Seafood Curry in a Hurry (this one is easy for me, perhaps not everyone else)

Asian Meatloaf

And now…..

Pasta al Pastore – Calabrian Shepard’s Style Pasta (adapted from Lidia Bastianich)

Stacie will love this one and in my opinion, it almost makes itself.  Store bought, well-made Italian sausage (chicken, turkey or traditional pork) is what makes this dish so quality and so easy.  Well-seasoned sausage takes away the need to add your own seasonings and when possible I use good ricotta (our local Bellwether Farms ricotta fits the bill).  If you are squeamish (or vegetarian like my friend Anu), you can often buy bulk sausage or tell the butcher to remove the casings for you.  If the Italian shepherds eat this, I am down with it!


  • 4 hot (or mild for kids) Italian sausages
  • 1lb package rigatoni or pasta of choice
  • 1/2lb fresh ricotta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Grated pecorino/parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. Boil well salted water in a large pot.  Add pasta and cook till al dente
  2. In a skillet, add oil, heat and then add sausage meat.  You can crumble it with the back of the wooden spoon.  Saute till cooked – 5-7 minutes.
  3. Reserving 2-3 ladles of pasta water, remove pasta from water and add to sausage in skillet
  4. Add the reserved pasta water.  Cook for a minute or so.  Turn off heat.
  5. Stir in ricotta and if using sprinkle with pecorino/parmesan
  6. Done!! (Red wine, anyone?)

Do share your go-to effortless recipes in the comments below (link to your blog or a recipe or type in a recipe) or on our Facebook page!

21 thoughts on “Dinner in a Blink: Pasta al Pastore

  1. This looks yummy! I actually never used ricotta cheese for this kind of pasta. This recipe is so simple and I already remember it. I’m going to try this! Sorry I’ve been a bit busy to link my recipe, but will do next time when I have more time. 😉 I love the idea of sharing easy recipes!!

  2. What a great recipe! I love the idea of adding ricotta to sausage and pasta. An easy lasagna fix. My latest favorite auto-pilot, mid-week meal (thanks to Trader Joe’s) is chicken with tapenade sauce and rice. I just threw this together one night, we loved it, and I’ve been making it almost weekly since.

    Pan-Fried Chicken Breasts with Tapenade
    (Serves 4)

    1 package organic chicken breasts (TJ’s)
    1 container refrigerated tapenade (TJ’s) (I’ve used TJ’s jarred green olive tapenade off the shelf too and it works just as well. I just prefer the fresh stuff)
    3 TBS olive oil for pan
    a little flour

    Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts, then coat in flour. I cut each breast up into thirds (large hunks). Heat olive oil (you may need a little more) in frying pan on medium-high. Cook chicken until golden brown on both sides and just cooked in the middle. Drop in a full container of tapenade and coat the chicken with sauce until the sauce is full heated.

    Serve over brown rice, quinoa, or wild rice and enjoy (when pinched for time, I use the TJ’s frozen rice)!

    You’ll have dinner in less than 20 minutes and everyone will yum on it.

    Look forward to trying the other recipes.

  3. i always keep shredded chicken in portions in the freezer (i love marina meats’ roasted chickens – i buy them and shred them for use later). throw a handful of that shredded chicken in a saucepan with pre-made enchilada sauce (trader joe’s is nice) or, like i did last night, chipotle in adobo/chicken broth combo. let that simmer. chipotle in adobo is spicy but full of flavor and requires nothing else. the enchilada sauce works well on its own too.
    meanwhile cook up a can of black beans – i happened to have leftover rice and mixed them together. a little garlic/onion, salt and pepper. super simple.
    serve it all with shredded cheese (can also be frozen and kept on hand), any torn up green leafy stuff (i did cilantro and basil and scallion since it’s summer, in tortillas. or make a “bowl” of it all. protein, legumes, mexican flavor…everyone is happy.

  4. Thanks so much for the suggestions! There is nothing better than having recipes at the ready. Even when you love to cook, there are days I just want to lay on the beach. 🙂

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