Sunday Night Comfort Pasta

You might notice a trend by now: Carbs are comfort in my family. Whether it’s biscuits for breakfast or five pounds of potatoes for four people, I rely heavily on carbs. I’m not good with tears. I offer carbs. Leaving aside the merits of this, or the long-term viability for my waistline, I proffer this idea to make your week better: Sunday night comfort pasta.

This pasta doesn’t quality as comfort pasta because it takes 5 hours. This is more like “rainy and hungover” pasta. Monopoly though is a great distraction from Sunday scaries.

For the longest time, my weekly meal plan (which exists only in my head, not on some dry erase board so that I really commit to it) included a cleansing, vegetable-forward, get-your-week-off-to-a-good-start kind of meal. Kale soup, or peppers with turkey and quinoa, or salmon and a quick steamed veggie. Alas, while tasty, none of these meals offer you a warm hug and a “go get ‘em, Tiger” affirmation before the week starts. 

Comfort pasta does. 

What is comfort pasta, exactly? It’s nothing fancy. It doesn’t require a trip to the grocery. It’s probably ready in 25 minutes, but if it takes 45, oh well, because it’s easy work — chopping and sauteeing, at most — and enjoying a glass of wine and chatter about the lovely weekend you had while the water boils and all the good things you’re sauteeing in a healthy pat of butter meld together. 

I’ll include last night’s recipe, because it was terrific (and because peppers were on sale for 89 cents last week, so I had way too many on hand). But I offer a few others for consideration, too, in case you don’t have anything fresh in the fridge. Smitten Kitchen’s Foolproof Cacio e Pepe barely requires a recipe, which is true for all comfort pastas. But her techniques to make this oh so flavorful are what take this dorm room staple to Sunday night status. Amateur Gourmet’s Cavatappi with Sundried Tomatoes and Cannellini Beans is the pasta I made at the end of a long weekend with friends in Vail, Colo., all fretting about the next day’s flights. This foolproof, nearly effortless pasta took away our collective anxieties and let us enjoy one last night together (not having to wait for a table or make any ordering decisions helped us relax, too).This spaghetti carbonara from Food52 requires some fancy whisking, but with fewer than five ingredients and one practice go-round, it will become a staple when you really need to layer on the comfort.

I’ll call this recipe below “Last Night’s Pasta,” and everything in it except the butter is interchangeable with any other sort-of-kind-of-similar vegetables. Don’t forget the butter, or sub it with olive oil. You won’t get the same richness in these vegetables.


3 bell peppers, any color, chopped in large (2 inch or so) pieces

1 onion

2 zucchinis 

½ stick butter 

½ jar of your favorite marinara

1 bag cannelloni 

Melt the butter in a large pan with a tight-fitting lid. While you’re quick chopping the veggies. Add the veggies, and cover with the lid. Let veggies cook on medium low heat until soft. Boil water for the pasta while this gets good and soft. Add a cup or so of marinara, and cook for another few minutes. Pour your pasta into the sauce, give it a good stir and get everything coated. 

Serve in bowls, because a bowl of pasta is so much more enjoyable than a plate, and perfect this time of year to eat off your lap in front of a firepit. It tastes even better with friends, of course. Friends are another weapon in my arsenal against the Sunday Scaries.


Alicia Amling View All →

Recovering journalist who discovered a life outside of news leaves you time for things like getting angry, cooking and traveling. Plus, hopefully, writing. I’m a wife, dog mom and Washingtonian.

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