I was raised in a traditional Italian family from Italian areas in Brooklyn and Philadelphia. My first words were “pasta” and “prosciutto.” I learned how to grow my own tomatoes and basil and make my own marinara sauce from scratch before I learned basic division.

I have never tasted or been within a two-mile radius of Prego, or whatever other “Italian” jarred tomato sauces exists. That is, until I moved into an apartment-style dorm with two of my friends this year.

The first week of school, my friends and I each went grocery shopping, stocking our kitchen to the point where we needed to buy a second refrigerator. Upon returning from one of my trips to Westside Market, I opened one of our cabinets to see Mario Batali Pasta Sauce Alla Vodka.

As I stared at the little picture of Mario Batali in all of his ponytail-wearing glory, I asked his tiny picture why, and how, he allowed for this to happen. How could a famous chef with incredible restaurants around the world allow a sauce to be mass-produced in a factory under his name? (I’m just going to ignore the fact that the roommate who purchased this sauce is also Italian.)

Admittedly, it is actually really difficult to cook a full meal in a tiny dorm room kitchen, and sometimes working up the motivation to cook after a long and stressful day is even harder. So, I simplified my four favorite, traditional Italian recipes so that you can make authentic Italian in your dorm – in an hour or less! Each portion makes enough for half a box of pasta, so if you have any leftovers, you can pop that baby in the refrigerator, and, BOOM, there’s dinner for tomorrow night, or dinner for up to six months if you keep it in the freezer.

For each recipe, boil enough salted water for the amount of pasta of your choice. Dried pasta should be cooked for 11-12 minutes – al dente is always best.

#SpoonTip: Pop open some wine while you make these.

Alexandra Tringali

Classic Marinara

  • Prep Time:5 mins
  • Cook Time:45 mins
  • Total Time:50 mins
  • Servings:2
  • Easy

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic peeled and minced
  • Handful fresh basil washed and chopped in the chiffonade style
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper optional
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
Alexandra Tringali
Alexandra Tringali

Step 1

Add the olive oil, garlic, basil, salt, and peppers into a small saucepan over medium heat.

Step 2

Once the oil begins to sizzle and the basil wilts, pour in the can of tomatoes.

Step 3

Stir with a wooden spoon, and let boil (with a lid – the sauce will pop!) for about 15 minutes.

Step 4

Turn the heat down to simmer for another 15-30 minutes, until the sauce thickens.

Step 5

Pour over strained pasta. Extra marinara can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, and frozen for up to 6 months.
Alexandra Tringali

Boozy Vodka Sauce

  • Prep Time:15 mins
  • Cook Time:1 hr
  • Total Time:1 hr 15 mins
  • Servings:2
  • Easy

    Ingredients

  • Marinara base same as above
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic peeled and minced
  • Handful fresh basil washed and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper optional
  • 4-5 pieces thinly sliced imported prosciutto cut into 2 inch ribbons
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup vodka I know you have that
Alexandra Tringali
Alexandra Tringali

Step 1

Prepare the marinara base from the recipe above.

Step 2

As it simmers, add the olive oil, garlic, basil, salt, and peppers to a separate saucepan over medium heat.

Step 3

Once the oil sizzles, add the prosciutto and stir with a wooden spoon.

Step 4

Transfer the cooked marinara to this second saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon.

Step 5

Add the cream and the vodka and stir until all of the cream is combined.

Step 6

Let the sauce boil over medium heat for 20 minutes, and then let simmer for another 15 minutes.

Step 7

Pour over strained pasta. Extra vodka sauce can also be refrigerated for up to 5 days, and frozen for up to 6 months.
Alexandra Tringali

Sicilian Pasta Salad

  • Prep Time:30 mins
  • Cook Time:0
  • Total Time:30 mins
  • Servings:2
  • Easy

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 can black olives drained and halved
  • 1/2 can chickpeas drained
  • 1/2 roasted pepper in oil
  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • As much provolone cheese as your heart desires cubed thinly sliced or crumbled
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 3-4 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Marinated mushrooms optional
Alexandra Tringali
Alexandra Tringali

Step 1

In a large bowl, combine the halved olives and chickpeas.

Step 2

Cut the roasted pepper and the tomatoes in half down the middle, and then into thick, short strips.

Step 3

Add to the bowl, along with the provolone cheese.

Step 4

Squeeze half the lemon over the ingredients in the bowl, followed by the olive oil and salt and pepper.

Step 5

Combine, making sure the juice and oil coat all of your ingredients.

Step 6

Let sit for 15 minutes to marinate. Pour on top of strained pasta.
Alexandra Tringali
Alexandra Tringali

Step 7

This can be served at any temperature, but I prefer it cold. Extra pasta salad can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

*If I want a brinier taste in my pasta salad, I add five marinated mushrooms, halved, and some of their juice with the oil and lemon. I think this achieves a greater depth of flavor, but some don’t like the taste.
Alexandra Tringali

Easiest Basil Pesto Ever

  • Prep Time:10 mins
  • Cook Time:15 mins
  • Total Time:25 mins
  • Servings:2
  • Easy

    Ingredients

  • 4 cups large fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoon water

Step 1

Add the basil, cheese, nuts, garlic, and salt and pepper to a food processor, blender, or a NutriBullet, and blend until chopped.

Step 2

Add the olive oil and blend until combined into a paste.

Step 3

Add 1/2 tablespoon of water at a time, and combine between additions.

Step 4

Stop adding water once the pesto becomes less of a paste and more creamy and combined, somewhere between a paste and a thin sauce.

Step 5

Spoon over strained pasta and stir to evenly coat.

Step 6

Pesto sauce can also be refrigerated for up to 5 days, and frozen for up to 6 months.
Alexandra Tringali
Alexandra Tringali