If we could give a medal to the hardest-working multi-tasker of the food world, it would have to go to pasta.
No ingredient is quite so versatile when it comes to blending different flavours and tastes (creamy burrata, hot chilli, bacon, sage or squash - you name it, pasta can do it). No foodstuff is as flexible in meeting the needs of picky eaters (pasta can be veggie, gluten-free and even low carb). And above all, no dish is as eminently satisfying whatever the occasion.
Want a Friday night comfort splurge? Fresh tagliatelle heaped with prosciutto will do the job. Need to wow your dinner guests? Orecchiette cacio e pepe is there to please. Fancy a quick-fix lunch option? Throw together a pasta shell salad with burrata, peas and green beans on the side.
Read on for 15 reasons why this queen of Italian cuisine is our hero kitchen ingredient - courtesy of the most tasty-looking recipes Pinterest has to share:
The cheesy delight: caprese mac and cheese
It's not the most traditional of dishes, but this Italian twist on an American classic leads to the most delicious-looking meal ever. Cheese lovers, dig in.
Find a recipe here via simply-delicious-food.com.
The multi-tasker: roasted cauliflower and mushroom carbonara
Pappardelle comes from the Italian verb pappare, meaning "to gobble up", and we challenge any carnivore not to pounce upon this combo of fresh pasta in ground lamb and pork bolognese sauce.
Find a recipe here via kneadforfood.com.
The gluten-free one: courgette strip pasta with pesto
It's hard to believe that stripped courgette could taste as good as actual pasta, but word on the street is it works. Seasoning is your friend here, from garlic to lemon juice and fresh basil.
Find a recipe here via divinehealthyfood.com.
The veggie-friendly bake: one-pan fajita pasta
Sometimes you just need a little pick-me-up at the end of a hard day's work. We find this cheese-heavy penne bake does the job rather nicely.
Find a recipe here via amandakbythebay.blogspot.co.uk.
The leftover lunch option: orecchiette pasta with burrata
Minimal ingredients are the key to mid-week cooking, so next time you reach for the pizza delivery leaflet turn instead to this deliciously simple fusion of fusilli pasta, mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes.
Find a recipe here via cookieandkate.com.
The Friday night treat: fresh tagliatelle with prosciutto and lemon
A recipe that's at once filling and not overly bad for you (thanks to the reduced fat sausages), this is a good one to share among a group of friends at the weekend.
Find a recipe here via vikalinka.com.
The dinner party starter: ricotta-stuffed baby shells with butter roasted tomato sauce
Image: agneseitalianrecipes.blogspot.it via Pinterest
These pots of delight are the perfect starter; they're easy to make and look gorgeous. A guaranteed people-pleaser.
Find a recipe here via ageneitalianrecipes.blogspot.it.
The wow factor centrepiece: orecchiette cacio e pepe with roasted squash and burrata
Even hardened foodies would struggle to be impressed by orecchiette cacio e pepe, a thunderbolt of a dish with kale leaves, burrata and Pecorino Romano cheese.
Find a recipe here via kitchykitchen.com.
The last days of summer dish: spaghetti with lemon marinated chicken
If we could choose one recipe that epitomises balmy late summer evenings - warm but with a crisp hint of autumn in the air - it would be this. You can just imagine eating it outside as the evening draws in.
Find a recipe here via godofscrumprecipes.tumblr.com.