Back Pocket Pasta: Inspired Dinners to Cook on the Fly by Colu Henry

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Notes about Recipes in this book

  • Linguine with Savoy cabbage and salumi

    • MollyB on May 26, 2018

      Very tasty, quick dish. I would be tempted to add a little more salumi than the recipe called for, next time. I used a mix of prosciutto, capicola, and soppressata, and the soppressata was especially good.

    • Rutabaga on January 28, 2018

      This is a nice, very fast pasta option. However, I recommend upping the amounts of the "sauce" ingredients. The cabbage in particular seemed to get lost among the pasta strands (not that the children minded that). Also, even with about a half cup of pasta water, it was fairly dry. Increase the amount of pasta water as needed, and drizzle some nice olive oil over everything to finish the dish.

  • Smoky garganelli alla vodka

    • MollyB on September 07, 2018

      Very good and easy, although it's not quite as good as some of the other recipes in the book. The notes say you can omit 'nduja to make the dish vegetarian, but it would be a pretty different dish.

    • Samjbutler on June 22, 2020

      One of my families' favorite recipes. Perfect for a quick weeknight supper.

  • Creamed spinach pasta

    • MollyB on February 20, 2018

      Pretty good but not thrilling. I would make again if I had the ingredients around, but probably wouldn't go out of my way to get the ingredients. I almost thought it was better the next day for lunch.

    • Astrid5555 on February 03, 2021

      I love this book, everytime a recipe from it comes up during my EYB search I know that we are in for a nice weeknight family pasta dish. This recipe was no exception. Even veggie-averse son liked it a lot. Will definitely repeat.

    • Rutabaga on September 17, 2019

      I really enjoyed this dish, although I did change it up a bit. First, I sauteed chopped boneless skinless chicken thighs, then removed them from the pan before making the sauce. The cream deglazed the pan nicely to get all the browned bits. I added the chicken back in together with the pasta, and used soft goat cheese in place of ricotta, as my family prefers the taste. Finally, I added a squeeze of lemon juice, and served it with lemon wedges at the table to add more to taste. It needs a little acid, so don't skip this addition. My eight-year-old son was also a fan.

  • Braised hunter's chicken ragu

    • MollyB on February 20, 2018

      Very good recipe. I added some of the frozen porcini mushrooms from Trader Joe's, and that was a great addition; any other wild mushrooms would also be good. I will definitely make this again.

  • Baked ziti with crème fraîche and spinach

    • MollyB on March 18, 2018

      Very good! Will make again. I liked the technique of using diced rather than shredded mozzarella on top. It made for a very full 9 x 13 inch pan (mine was 2 in. deep) - I'd use a slightly bigger dish next time.

    • meggan on September 26, 2017

      Creamy and delicious. I drained a little of the liquid off the tomato sauce before adding because it was pretty watery at the end of the simmer. We ate this for days!

    • Rutabaga on November 29, 2018

      My husband loved this. Oddly, the seven-year-old didn't like it (what's not to like?), although the two-year-old did. It's a great dish to prepare in advance and then pull out of the fridge while the oven is pre-heating. I used whole canned tomatoes instead of diced, and also substituted goat cheese for the ricotta.

    • bwhip on June 23, 2018

      Very good dish. The creme fraiche gives it a wonderful tang. My wife called it sort of a "deconstructed lasagna." Pretty easy to throw together. Seemed like a lot for a 9 x 13 dish, so we used a slightly larger lasagna pan we have which seemed just right. Great flavors, excellent leftovers.

  • Bonnie Slotnick's pasta with spinach and goat cheese

    • MollyB on July 21, 2020

      Very good, easy recipe. I make it fairly frequently when it's getting toward the end of the week and I don't have much energy to cook, or when I have a bunch of greens that need to be used.

    • julesamomof2 on May 02, 2019

      Easy to throw together on a lazy weeknight with literally 4 ingredients. Used whole wheat spaghetti.

  • Mezze rigatoni with chickpeas and pancetta

    • MollyB on April 25, 2019

      This was the first disappointing recipe I've made from this book. All the other recipes have been great, so I had high expectations for this one. It unfortunately was sort of bland and the flavors didn't really come together.

  • Moroccan lamb ragu

    • MollyB on February 20, 2018

      This was fabulous! One of the best pasta recipes I've tried, and the one I've liked the most from this book so far. The heat from the cayenne blends perfectly with the other spices and the lamb to make a savory, umani-intense sauce. I was uncertain about the Greek yogurt on top when I read the recipe, but we tried it and it definitely added to the dish.

    • TrishaCP on February 23, 2019

      We liked this recipe. I followed instructions exactly except that I reduced the cayenne to 1/2 tsp, and that was plenty of heat. I wasn’t sure it was going to come together at first, because the sauce had lots of liquid, from the tomatoes, wine, and chicken broth- and it took a while to get a decent consistency. It also has a bit of a sour taste IMO, and I found it really needed the addition of the yogurt for it to come together and make sense to me. But with the yogurt, it was quite good. I had enough sauce for 1 lb of pasta.

  • Ramp and hazelnut pesto

    • TrishaCP on May 20, 2020

      If you like ramps, this is the dish for you. I liked the pairing here with hazelnuts.

    • Kduncan on June 06, 2019

      Very easy, very yummy (I also love ramps & hazelnuts, so I am biased). From start to finish took me 25 minutes to make.

  • Pasta with bacon, peas and leeks

    • TrishaCP on February 10, 2018

      We really liked this simple dish and thought it had a lot of flavor. (Perhaps because we only used 1/2 pound of pasta instead of 3/4, and we used whole wheat penne.) I had a non-stick skillet so didn't use the full amount of bacon fat-just enough to keep the pan slick. I added a drizzle of olive oil at the end too.

    • Astrid5555 on December 05, 2017

      Perfect for those weeknights when you don‘t feel like spending much time in the kitchen but still want something homecooked.Whole family enjoyed this pasta dish a lot. Used penne instead of rigatoni pasta and forgot to add the parsley in the end.

    • Rutabaga on December 11, 2017

      This wasn't a standout dish for me, but it's worth turning to for an easy one-dish pasta meal made from ingredients I often have on hand. Plus, everyone in the family ate it! I think the kids would prefer it without the leeks, however, so maybe I'll set aside a leek-free portion for them next time. That just means more leeks for the adults, which I don't mind.

  • Tomato and zucchini melt

    • TrishaCP on August 19, 2020

      This is a good recipe if you have a glut of tomatoes and zucchini. We were fans of the mozzarella. We used the dried red pepper flakes and it really needs that addition in my opinion.

    • Rutabaga on October 04, 2017

      This simple, late-summer pasta is a solid choice for a quick dinner. I left out the red pepper flakes and used Parmesan in place of the Romano, so mine had a little less zip, but it was still good eating. The buffalo mozzarella is nice, but perhaps a little mild. Goat cheese would also be a good option, and for more flavor I recommend sprinkling pepper flakes - any kind you like - over the cheese. Squeezing a little lemon juice over the vegetables would also be a welcome addition.

    • Lepa on May 03, 2017

      This was easy and pretty good. I'm not convinced the mozzarella adds much so I may leave it out next time. My husband disagrees but I suspect he likes fresh mozzarella more than I do.

  • Creamy zucchini and sausage

    • TrishaCP on August 22, 2018

      We liked this quick pasta too. My husband got rid of the pasta water before I could stop him, and I agree it definitely needed some of that water. Oh well-still flavorful!

    • Rutabaga on August 15, 2018

      It's another good, quick to make pasta. I added a little extra tomato, cream, Parmesan cheese (in place of the Romano) and almost a cup of pasta water (I also used a little more than 3/4 pound of pasta). The tomato made the sauce rather pink, so it wasn't the most appealing presentation, but it was a satisfying weeknight dinner.

    • HerBoudoir on June 25, 2017

      Very tasty and quick. Instead of cooking the zucchini in the pasta water, I sautéed it in some olive oil to brown it a little bit. Cut the recipe in half with no issues. Make sure to save the pasta water - it needed about another 1/2 cup of starchy water + to really make the sauce.

  • Easter ham carbonara

    • TrishaCP on January 05, 2019

      This had ok flavors, but the sauce was pretty weak and insipid. May have been user error from adding too much pasta water, but I won’t be trying this one again.

    • Rutabaga on April 15, 2019

      I found this to be a nice, filling and quick pasta dish. It's especially kid-friendly, and in my case the sauce clung nicely to the pasta, creating a rich, glossy coating. I only added a half cup of pasta water, which seemed just right.

  • Penne rigate with Gorgonzola, radicchio and walnuts

    • Astrid5555 on March 26, 2020

      Good way to use up some wilted radicchio lingering in the crisper. While I especially liked the crunch from the walnuts, husband was happy about the Gorgonzola in his pasta, win-win situation for both of us.

  • Chestnut pasta with red cabbage and pancetta

    • Astrid5555 on March 04, 2019

      While this turned out to be a good way of using up some red cabbage lingering in the fridge, this recipe did not work as promised. I needed to add a splash of water and put a lid on my pan until the red cabbage was braised sufficiently which took of course much longer than the 5 minutes stated in the book. Did not have any sage and used dried herb pasta leftovers which I had found the day before in the pantry instead of the chestnut pasta. Added lots of Parmesan cheese and black pepper and the family was happy.

  • Linguine con sarde

    • Astrid5555 on May 22, 2020

      Made this recipe because I had some fennel that needed using up. The addition of raisins together with the sardines makes for a very interesting yet appealing flavor combination. Could not be bothered with the flavored breadcrumbs, however I can imagine that these would make it even better. Will be a repeat in our household.

  • Pasta with mini meatballs and escarole

    • Astrid5555 on December 08, 2017

      Can only review the meatball part of the recipe. My boys requested rice instead of pasta, so I made them plain without any kind of sauce. These are delicious cheesy little meatballs which I will definitely be making again with the pasta and the sauce.

  • Caramelized fennel and hazelnut pasta

    • Astrid5555 on December 26, 2019

      What was initially only the result of an EYB search to use up some leftover vegetables turned out to be a pleasant surprise which will go into our regular pasta rotation. Delicious!

  • Rotini with rainbow chard and orange-fennel ricotta

    • meggan on October 10, 2017

      Easy and tasty. There could be better guidance as to the amount of chard. I used two bunches and felt it could have used more. The orange zest adds an interesting touch.

    • Kduncan on July 30, 2019

      Really easy. Liked the combination of flavors. The orange zest with the ricotta was my favorite part.

  • Rotini with caramelized onions, feta and walnuts

    • VineTomato on October 13, 2019

      Delicious. The first bite was a bit strange, but it got better and better. I made it with penne, which worked well. I did not think all the additional oil was necessary for the sauce so lifted the onions out of the oil and added them to the pasta, rather than the other way around. Creamy, crunch, tangy and unusual. Writing this review has been wanting to make it again!

  • Chad's garlic bread

    • Rutabaga on May 18, 2017

      It's your basic garlic bread recipe - yummy, of course. Gently cooking the garlic in butter first nicely mellows the flavor.

  • Garlicky broccoli salad

    • Rutabaga on October 01, 2018

      My husband and I really liked this, but my seven-year-old, who normally eats broccoli without prompting, didn't care for it because it was "too lemony and cold". But if you like lemon dressing and don't mind eating cold broccoli, this is a great easy side dish.

  • Summer corn and tomato pasta

    • Rutabaga on September 01, 2019

      This is quite delicious, packed with fresh corn and tomatoes. Finishing the pasta in the pan as directed leads to an unctuous, creamy sauce. I heightened the corn flavor by boiling the cobs together with the pasta, and used basil in place of sorrel.

  • Strozzapreti with broccolini, anchovy and almonds

    • Rutabaga on June 04, 2017

      It's another great, quick-to-make "back pocket" pasta. Other than the broccolini, these are all common "pantry" ingredients. My six-year-old loved it. If you have a little more time, it would probably taste even better with roasted broccoli. To accommodate the kids, I went light on the red pepper flakes, enabling the adults to add them to taste at the table.

    • Lepa on July 09, 2018

      This is fine but nothing special. I liked the crunchy almonds but doubt we will revisit this dish.

  • Creamy saffron risotto-style fregola

    • Rutabaga on May 23, 2017

      I used some orzo and a Trader Joe's medley of pearl couscous with a touch of quinoa and dried peas to make this dish. It tuned out to be a good way to use up an assortment of small pasta. Unsurprisingly, it was not a favorite of my five-year-old, but the one-year-old enjoyed it. I also appreciated the beautiful creamy texture and the subtle hint of saffron, a nice contrast with the crisp, salty prosciutto.

  • Linguine with quick chili oil and capers

    • Rutabaga on April 26, 2018

      While very basic, I find this pasta dish very satisfying. It's great for those who love briny, spicy dishes (and to keep the kids happy, I was able to set aside some plain pasta). I had some oil from a jar of Mama Lil's peppers that we'd finished off, so I didn't even have to add additional pepper flakes or garlic in this case.

    • Kduncan on January 22, 2019

      Very easy, and with stuff we just have around our pantry. Good flavor, but that might be because I liberally added red pepper flakes.

  • Pasta with pickled peppers

    • Rutabaga on October 01, 2018

      This is my kind of pasta - peppery, garlicky, fragrant with olive oil, and topped with a pleasant crunch for the panko. It's a great simple pasta dish to throw together if you have a jar of cherry peppers on hand. Mama Lil's peppers also work well.

  • Mediterranean cavatappi

    • Rutabaga on May 24, 2017

      I love this flavor combination, especially the light herbal note from the dill in contract with the brininess of many of the other ingredients. This is indeed a "back pocket pasta" to lean on when you need an easy meal made mostly with common pantry ingredients. Except for the dill, these are all ingredients I frequently have on hand.

  • Nonni's tuna-clam sauce

    • Lepa on May 24, 2017

      This was pretty good and I was able to cobble it together with items I had on hand. My husband thought tuna AND clams was overkill (he would prefer just clams) but I thought it was a good way to dress up jarred clams.

  • Tuscan kale "Caesar" pasta

    • Lepa on July 21, 2017

      I took some liberties with this recipe. . and was very happy with the results. One of our family's favorite weeknight staples is Mark Bittman's fried eggs with spaghetti. This is similar but it has kale (healthy!) and anchovies (tasty!) I sauteed the kale in a large braising pan according to directions but then, towards the end, I pushed the kale to the sides of the pan and cracked four eggs in the middle and fried them until the whites set and then put the pasta in, with some pasta water and cheese, and tossed the whole mass to create a kale/carbonara sauce. The result was really delicious and my kids gave it highest ratings and were not phased by the kale. Note: I was tempted to skip the breadcrumbs because I was in a hurry but they really improved the dish. Delicious!

  • Spaghetti Antalina

    • Lepa on August 23, 2017

      This is a great pantry-staple dinner. Please note that if you salt the pasta water, as I do, you might end up with a very salty dish. Next time I will leave the salt out of the panko and adjust seasoning at the table after the cheese had been added.

  • Lemony spaghetti

    • Lepa on October 04, 2017

      We liked this but found it a bit too lemony. I might reduce the lemon by 1/3 next time. And add more salt. I did love the fact that this was a very quick meal and it was creamy and satisfying.

  • Bucatini all'Amatriciana-ish

    • Lepa on January 10, 2021

      I had some guanciale and was craving Amatriciana so I tried this. I thought it was pretty good but perhaps not my favorite version.

    • Kduncan on March 03, 2020

      Not as great as some other recipes in this book. As with everything in the book, easy to make, but the flavors didn't pop as much as I hoped they would.

  • Linguine with asparagus and lemon

    • Lepa on January 29, 2018

      This was mediocre. Not bad but I wanted it to be richer and creamier. I think there was too much liquid, as the pasta was floating in water at the end. After it had cooled and absorbed liquid the texture was better but overall, not a recipe I'll repeat.

  • Linguine alle vongole

    • Lepa on November 25, 2018

      This was very easy to make but ended up too salty. I think I did something wrong but intend to try this recipe again soon because it was good.

  • Cacio e pepe

    • annmartina on March 07, 2018

      Sautéed some diced fresh tomatoes in the butter emulsion before adding the pasta. Showered with fresh parsley before serving

  • Spelt pasta with sausage, greens and walnut gremolata

    • LMK on September 19, 2017

      I made a few modifications to the recipe. I didn't have any spelt pasta which was said to give a toothsome bite so I used a combination of penne, campanelle and trottole pasta shapes which worked well texturally with the sauce. I used just over two thirds pound hot sausage instead of the full pound called for. And I used an 8 ounce bag of thawed and drained frozen kale instead of fresh. We really liked this. The walnut gremolata is essential. The nuts added a nice toothy texture while the parsley and lemon zest brightened and woke up the flavors. I just about always have parsley on hand, so with frozen kale this was a pantry dish. I might try the same treatment on cannellini beans instead of pasta another time for a bit healthier option.

  • Orecchiette with fresh corn and burrata

    • bwhip on May 18, 2018

      Simple, tasty. I had some nice cherry tomatoes, so I added them as well, which I think made it even better.

    • gamulholland on November 21, 2017

      This is a great dish if you like carbs with your carbs (which I do.) Maybe it was the sweetness of the summer corn combined with the mildness of the burrata, but it was a bit too sweet for me. Still tasty, though.

  • Pesto alla Trapanese

    • Kduncan on January 10, 2019

      Really easy recipe, picking the herbs probably takes the most time. Good flavor, though I'd rather make something a bit more complex with more flavor. Would make again if in a time crunch and had everything on hand.

  • Crab fra diavolo

    • Jviney on June 11, 2019

      This was okay. Admittedly, we live in Illinois where crab is not the freshest...but the dish felt like it was missing a flavor. Maybe an acid? Maybe some cream?

  • Pasta with shrimp in tomato cream

    • Jviney on March 25, 2020

      I prefer not to review recipes if I have not followed them pretty closely, but due to shelter in place restrictions I had to make a few changes and the results were so good. Instead of basil, I had chives just up in the garden; instead of feta, goat cheese; instead of scallions, part of a regular onion; and instead of fusilli, wagon wheels. My husband and I loved it...delicious.

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  • ISBN 10 0553459740
  • ISBN 13 9780553459746
  • Published Feb 28 2017
  • Format Hardcover
  • Page Count 240
  • Language English
  • Countries United States
  • Publisher Clarkson Potter

Publishers Text

"Who knew just five ingredients could taste like magic?!" [Refinery29]. Here are sophisticated weeknight-friendly pasta dishes that come together in the same amount of time it takes to boil the water. 

As much a mindset as it is a cookbook, Back Pocket Pasta shows how a well-stocked kitchen and a few seasonal ingredients can be the driving force behind delicious, simply prepared meals. Pantry staples—a handful of items to help you up your dinner game—give you a head start come 6pm, so you can start cooking in your head on the way home from work. For instance, if you know that you have a tin of anchovies, a hunk of parmesan, and panko bread crumbs, you can pick up fresh kale to make Tuscan Kale "Caesar" Pasta. Or if you have capers, red pepper flakes, and a lemon, you can make Linguine with Quick Chili Oil. With genius flavor combinations, a gorgeous photograph for every recipe, and a smart guide to easy-drinking cocktails and wine, Back Pocket Pasta will inspire you to cook better meals faster.