Dinner Challenged? Pasta Is The Answer!

I would be perfectly happy to serve pasta for dinner every night. I love pasta, and so does the family. No matter how it is served (well, within reason), it is gobbled up with happy smiles. Plus it has to be one of the world’s most versatile foods.

Of course, there’s one more important thing to love — it is easy to make. (Since I am not the world’s greatest chef, this is uber important.) And I am not the only one who thinks so. According to a study from Barilla, pasta is recognized by parents and non-parents as a tasty (88%) and easy (87%) meal option and one that can be prepared using on-hand ingredients from a pantry (82%). Plus, pasta helps alleviate chaotic schedules include that it is versatile (52%), a quick go-to meal (51%) and allows for multitasking while it’s cooking (44%).

To celebrate World Pasta Day, Barilla asked me to prepare a pasta dish for my family from The Modern Family Pasta Cookbook filled with 10 easy, delicious, nutritious crowd-pleasers for time-pressed families. I have to admit that prior to seeing the cookbook I was a little nervous. Not only am I not the best cook, but I am a picky eater too. Would I actually find something I could make and would enjoy.

For once, a cookbook lived up to its name. Filled with simple recipes that even I can follow and made with ingredients that even I eat, I can’t wait to try more dishes. For my creation, I opted to make Barilla White Fiber Mini Shells with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil & Parmigiano Cheese with a few minor alterations to fit our family’s taste preferences and what I already had in the pantry (my alterations in italics).

Barilla Pasta Ingredients

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4-6


  • 1 box of Pasta (I used Barilla Whole Grain Penne, my daughter’s pick)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small onions, diced (Since my family isn’t a huge fan of onions, I subbed minced garlic)
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • To taste, salt
  • To taste, pepper
  • 6 leaves basil, cut julienne style (I skipped these since my daughter won’t eat)
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano cheese, grated
  • 1 jar of sliced olives

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a large skillet, cook the onion (or garlic) in olive oil for 3-4 minutes or until translucent. Add cherry tomatoes and saute for 3-4 minutes until blistered. Season with salt and pepper. Cook pasta 1 minute less than required cooling time, drain reserving 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water. Toss pasta with sauce and pasta cooking water. Remove from heat: add basil and cheese. Stir to combine and serve.

At the last-minute, while pulling ingredients from the pantry, my olive-loving daughter suggested we add olives. (Apparently, she has a flair for cooking because it was a fantastic addition!)

Yum, yum, yum! Mommy made a hit!

Barilla Pasta Tomatoes Olives Olive Oil

In fact, it was so good I can’t wait to try another recipe from the cookbook – Barilla Lemon Spaghetti. Doesn’t that sound yum? Good news, you can get all of the recipes included in The Modern Family Pasta Cookbook by downloading it for free from the Barilla Facebook page.

On October 25, 2012, Barilla fans are invited to “Share a Hug” with a friend via Facebook. When you share a hug you will receive a download copy of the cookbook, a coupon for $1 off Barilla pasta or sauce and Barilla pasta will donate four meals to Feeding America. But don’t wait, the “Share a Hug” campaign is only on World Pasta Day and the coupon is limited to the first 25,000 people.

Happy World Pasta Day!

Barilla Pasta love

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Barilla. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.

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