September 25, 2018 | ° F

Simple, almost gourmet Italian food made easy


Living in a dorm can be hard for a lot of reasons, but not having a kitchen is the icing on the cake. When you're hungry and don’t feel like leaving your room, your options can seem limited. If you’re tired of that all-too-familiar crunch of dining hall pasta that sat out for too long, try making your own pasta in the microwave. It’ll be fresh tasting and delicious, and you’ll feel like a pro.

To make pasta in the microwave, put about three-quarters of a cup of a short pasta (ziti, fusilli, etc.) into a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with water and add a pinch of salt. Place the bowl on a plate (some water may overflow) and microwave for about 10 minutes. Cooking time may vary depending on the pasta used. Drain the pasta, leaving a tiny bit of water in the bowl. “Cooking water” is full of starch from the pasta, so it will help your sauces become more “saucy.” This recipe makes one serving. To follow, top with an ultra-easy, microwavable sauce recipe.

Fresh, Cherry Tomato Sauce

This tomato sauce couldn’t be more simple. You just toss chopped cherry tomatoes with some olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Because the sauce has such few ingredients, it is important that they are good quality. When buying olive oil, look for the words “extra virgin” and “first cold pressed.” Unfiltered is best, if you can find it. It will be a little more expensive, but good olive oil makes a huge difference in how a recipe tastes. It’s also healthier for you since there are more “good fats.” Think of it as an investment in flavor and in your health.


  • ⅔ cup of finely diced cherry tomatoes (about 20)

  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • ⅛ teaspoon finely minced garlic or a tiny pinch of garlic powder (optional)

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. For the best results, let the sauce sit at room temperature for at least half an hour before tossing with the hot pasta.

Pasta with Cheese and Pepper

In Rome, there is a classic pasta dish called “Cacio e Pepe.” It’s like a grown-up Italian mac n’ cheese. It is as close as you can get to the authentic version in a dorm room. A bit of the cooking water, along with the grated cheese and hot pasta, will make a delicious, silky sauce. The classic, "Cacio e Pepe" does not include butter, but the addition of butter makes it easier for the sauce to form in our microwave recipe. Pecorino Romano is the best cheese to use for this pasta, but regular grated parmesan will also work.


  • ½ tablespoon of butter
  • ½ cup of grated cheese, preferably Pecorino Romano
  • pepper (freshly ground)

Stir the butter into the hot pasta, toss in the grated cheese and the pepper, then stir until a sauce forms. Make sure you leave a bit of the cooking water behind when you drain the pasta so that a sauce can form.

Broccoli Cheddar Pasta

This pasta is comforting and delicious, and you can also feel a little good about it because of the addition of broccoli. That makes it healthy, right? If you’re really hungry, or just really like broccoli, add more of it. Broccoli has almost no calories, so go wild.

  • ⅓ cup of frozen, chopped broccoli
  • ½ tablespoon of butter
  • ½ cup of grated cheddar cheese
  • Salt

Cook the pasta according to the directions above, but in the last two minutes of cooking, add the frozen broccoli. Stir the hot, drained pasta and broccoli with the butter. Then stir in the grated cheddar and salt.

Julia Terranova

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