Good quality, fresh, packaged egg pasta from the refrigerator or freezer case can be the basis for a terrific – and terrifically quick – weeknight supper. I usually forgo the ready-made sauces often displayed with the pasta, preferring to make my own quick pan sauces from scratch.

Here are a couple of ideas that are delicious and just happen to be meatless.


Asparagus season is beginning, and now is the time to start using the beautiful herbaceous stalks in as many ways as possible. This is a lovely sauce for fresh egg fettuccine, and a mixed green salad and garlic bread would suit it nicely.

Serves about 3

1 pound asparagus

About 12 shiitake mushrooms

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

¾ cup chicken or vegetable broth

½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving

¾ cup torn basil leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 (9-ounce) package fresh fettuccine

Break off tough ends of asparagus and slice into ¾-inch pieces on an angle. Trim mushrooms, discard stems (or save for another use), and chop coarsely.

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet. Add asparagus, mushrooms and garlic and cook over medium-high heat, stirring almost constantly, until asparagus is crisp-tender and mushrooms have softened, about 5 minutes. Add broth, cheese and basil and season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions, separating with tongs, until al dente. Do not overcook. Scoop out and reserve about ¾ cup of cooking water and drain pasta.

Reheat sauce if necessary. Toss pasta with sauce, adding a bit of the cooking water to loosen sauce if necessary. Check seasoning and serve. Pass more cheese at the table.


This butter and sage sauce is a classic, and is great tossed with cheese-filled tortellini or ravioli. Serve with a tomato, yellow pepper and red onion salad and sesame breadsticks.

Serves 2 to 3

6 tablespoons butter

¾ cup fresh breadcrumbs or panko crumbs

4 tablespoons coarsely chopped sage leaves

1 (9-ounce) package fresh cheese tortellini

¼ cup shredded Pecorino Romano cheese

Juice of half a lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet. Add crumbs and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Reserve.

In a small saucepan, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons butter with the sage over medium heat, swirling pan almost constantly, until butter is fragrant and turns a nutty brown, 3 to 4 minutes. (Be careful not to let it burn.)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add tortellini and cook according to package directions until al dente. Scoop out and reserve about ¾ cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.

Toss pasta with the brown butter sauce, cheese and lemon juice, adding a bit of the cooking water to loosen if necessary.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with crumbs and serve.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

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