For Dan Pashman, the pastabilities are endless. The host of beloved food podcast The Sporkful and mastermind behind the now-iconic Cascatelli pasta shape has added “cookbook author” to his impressive resume. Pashman’s debut cookbook, Anything's Pastable: 81 inventive pasta recipes for saucy people comes out March 19.

This book will revolutionize your preconceived notions of pasta dishes. It's packed with extraordinary recipes like pasta pizza and mapo tofu cascatelli, and includes essays on pasta culture, rants about sauce pairings, and even a pasta shape name decoder. Anything’s Pastable is so much more than just a cookbook — it’s a comprehensive guide to enhancing your (lifelong) relationship with pasta.

Spoon chatted with Pashman about Anything’s Pastable, the trials and tribulations of cookbook creation, and his advice for college chefs.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Spoon University: What inspired you to create Anything’s Pastable?

Dan Pashman: The book is based upon the idea that there are a lot more things you can — and should — be putting on your pasta. When I launched Cascatelli and it went viral, that was very exciting. But when people told me what they were making with it, I noticed that most Americans have a pretty limited range of ingredients they put on pasta. Tomato sauce, meat sauce, pesto, maybe a few party animals made mac ’n’ cheese.

I just felt like a lot of people are missing out on the full glory of pasta, and it made me a little sad, because there are so many delicious ways to eat pasta. So with Anything's Pastable, I want to broaden people's horizons, and hopefully blow their minds.

SU: Anything’s Pastable has so many wonderful components, like the jarred tomato sauce decision tree and the guide to sauce pairings. How did you decide what to include beyond recipes?

DP: A lot of it was just making the cookbook I wanted to see in the world. With the jarred tomato sauce decision tree — I don't cook tomato sauce from scratch. I certainly don't think the world needs another recipe for tomato sauce, and if it does, I don’t need to be the one to make it. There are so many great jarred tomato sauces out there, why not just encourage people to use those and doctor them to their taste? I thought, someone should do this, and then I was like, what if I did it? And that's how the jarred tomato sauce decision tree came to be.

SU: Many of the dishes in the book, such as the Kimchi Carbonara, are adaptations or variations of more “traditional” Italian recipes. How did you approach authenticity when developing these recipes?  

DP: The idea that Italian pasta culture has only ever been one way is a myth. There's a lot of mythology around Italian food, and most of it is just not true. Some of the most beloved pasta dishes in Italy are relatively new. Italian pasta dishes are constantly evolving, and new variations come out all the time. The idea that a pasta dish has only ever been the “traditional” way your Nonna’s Nonna did it is bullsh*t.

In terms of authenticity, this is just a natural evolution of what happens when human beings move around the world and bring their foods with them. I certainly eat a wider range of foods and ingredients than I did growing up. It's natural for me to incorporate something like kimchi, that I already love to eat and cook with, into pasta. And it's not just natural for me. it's also natural for, in particular, Korean Americans. Just because some people aren't doing it or haven't been doing it doesn't mean it's wrong.

SU: As you’ve said, you're not a chef and you don't have formal culinary training. What do you think that your non-chef perspective brings to the book?   

DP: At first, I kind of had imposter syndrome about not being a chef. Who am I to be writing recipes? But I came to realize that it actually can be a strength. The number one concern when developing recipes is anticipating every way that it could possibly go wrong for a home cook, so you can set people up for success. I'm a home cook, and I’m able to anticipate the kinds of questions that home cooks might ask. So I tried to think of myself as a stand in for the reader, and use it as a strength.

SU: Are there any recipes in the book that you would recommend for beginner cooks, especially college students?

DP: It depends on your mood. The vodka sauce with tomato achaar is basic and very comforting. It’s the kind of thing you can whip up in an apartment when you get home from class, and it’s definitely going to scratch your comfort food itch. If you want something a little lighter and brighter, the cavatelli with roasted artichokes and preserved lemon is really nice. You can throw it together, it's got a ton of flavor, it's vegetarian. Most of the ingredients come out of a jar or a can, and yet you'll feel like you're eating something very fresh and delicious. Also, the jarred tomato sauce decision tree is probably going to be especially useful for college students.

SU: Any advice for college students working to gain confidence in the kitchen?  

DP: It's not a failure if you learn from it. I've ruined a lot of meals over the years. It's going to happen. It's okay. Just try to learn from it. You learn by doing, so just do it.

SU: Why should people invest in cookbooks when you can find recipes for anything on the internet?  

DP: Recipes in cookbooks are tested over and over again. At least four different people cooked every recipe in my book, in three or four different states, in different kitchens. Sometimes the third or fourth person has a problem the first few didn't have. And that makes you realize, oh, here's another potential pitfall for the readers, we need to figure this out. That level of detail and testing and rigor results in much more reliable recipes.

Look, if you have three ingredients and you just want to throw them together, sure, look up a recipe. I do that sometimes too. I’m not knocking it. But pasta is never going to go out of style. If you buy a pasta cookbook, you're going to be cooking out of it for years, and you’ll know the recipes are reliable.

SU: What recipe or aspect of the cookbook are you proudest of?

DP: I'm just proud that I did it. I took on this challenge knowing that I'm not a chef, and I’d never done something like this before. At times it was very hard and discouraging and more challenging than I expected. But I’m really proud of the end results, and I’m glad I did it.