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Associated Press

Pasta is a blessing for cooks in a hurry. The basics are fresh or dried pasta, a good olive oil and a couple of cans of Italian tomatoes. Other kitchen staples should include fresh Parmesan cheese and a fine balsamic vinegar.

“Pasta offers you countless variety through plain but outstanding raw materials that make a big difference in flavor,” according to “Pasta: a Passion” (Ten Speed Press). “… the better the raw materials, the better the outcome will taste.”

Authors Nina Dreyer Hensley, Jim Hensley and Paul Lowe say fresh pasta is often limited to spaghetti, fettuccini and tagliatelle, but dried pasta is found in a number of shapes and sizes.

“In Italy,” they say, “dried pasta is generally used with oil-based sauces. Hollow dried pasta shapes and spaghetti work well with thick, rustic sauces; more delicate pastas are better suited to light sauces.”

Spaghetti With Lemon and Basil, one of 70 recipes in the spiral-bound book, can be made in 15 minutes with fresh or dry pasta.

Spaghetti With Lemon & Basil12 oz. spaghetti

Juice of 2 lemons

3/4 cup olive oil

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 bunch fresh basil, washed, stemmed and minced

2 tbsp. fresh parsley, washed and chopped

1 tbsp. grated lemon zestIn a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti according to package instructions until al dente. Drain. Return the spaghetti to the pot.

In a bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until the sauce is thick and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the sauce to the spaghetti and gently mix. Gently stir in the basil, parsley and lemon zest.

Makes 6 servings.

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