*I’ve also used the same weight (12 ounces) of spaghetti and short tubular or spiral pasta with good success. (I actually think the shorter noodles are easier to stir. Although I haven’t tried, I don’t recommend angel hair pasta, as I think it might be too thin.)
**If you prefer your pasta on the firmer side of al dente, you could start with 4 cups of water. Then if you find you need a little more liquid towards the end, you may add it as needed. (See variations below if you prefer to use broth.) Note that what seems like a little extra liquid at the end will be absorbed as the pasta rests.
•For added flavor, first sauté the onions in the olive oil over medium to medium-high heat for about 5 minutes or until browned in places. Then add the garlic and sauté for another 30-60 seconds or until fragrant. Proceed with the recipe as directed. Prep ahead tip: You may complete this step up to 2 hours in advance, allowing the pan to sit at room temperature. When ready to cook the meal, add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and proceed as directed.
Gluten-Free preparation: I’ve had the most success with gluten-free pasta that is made with corn flour and rice flour as ingredients, in that order. (I can specifically say Barilla’s gluten-free penne was a hit with a crowd of more gluten eaters that “gluten-freers.”) Gluten-free pasta often requires 10-11 minutes to cook, so allow for a few extra minutes and taste to ensure perfectly cooked noodles.
I’ve found that rice noodles (I tested brown rice noodles) turned somewhat gummy. Hypothetically, if I were to try using rice noodles again, I would use a short noodle－perhaps made of white rice－and stir just enough to ensure even cooking and prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. Over-stirring can bring out the starches in the noodles. I have not tried the increasingly popular noodles made with garbanzo beans but have heard anecdotally that they turned mushy in this dish. This could be because the cooking time of those noodles tends to be short and following the stated directions led to overcooked pasta.
•Twelve ounces of a short tubular or spiral pasta (like ziti or rotini) works beautifully as an alternative to linguine or spaghetti. (I actually think it’s a little easier to stir.)
•For added protein, mix in cooked and shredded chicken (1 to 2 cups) at the end of cooking time. I’ve also topped the plated pasta with sliced grilled chicken.
•The plated pasta could also be topped with grilled or roasted shrimp.
•Replace the water with chicken or vegetable broth. In this case, however, you will likely want to reduce the salt to balance the amount of sodium in the broth.
•Sauté some prosciutto or bacon until crisp at the beginning, and then remove to a plate and crumble. Stir in once the pasta is fully cooked.
•Use asiago cheese instead of Parmesan－or sprinkle finished dish with crumbled feta.
•Stir in some chopped spinach or kale at the end, allowing a few minutes to wilt it.
•When the pasta is fully cooked, I’ve stirred in roughly chopped, leftover grilled vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers and portobello mushrooms all complement beautifully).
•I have not tried, but one commenter made this dish with farro (one cup farro and 3 cups water) instead of pasta, and said it was incredibly delicious and creamy, almost like a risotto.