My great-grandparents came from Italy, so we ate a lot of pasta when I was growing up. Meat sauce on Sundays, marinara during the week. We ate roast chicken and pork chops, too, but pasta’s my favorite because it’s endlessly adaptable.

My husband and I once hosted my family for Easter at our Brooklyn apartment. We crammed in about 15 people, and I made a ham. Afterward, I created this spring-y carbonara to put the leftovers to good use.

Get the recipe: Easter Ham Carbonara

My Spaghetti Crab Fra Diavolo was also born of circumstance: My great-aunt Mary made this showstopping dish using crabs my uncles caught.

Photo: GANCINO/iStock

Get the recipe: Spaghetti Crab Fra Diavolo

And my Spaghetti with Brussels Sprouts and Mustard is a delightful last-minute meal using ingredients you may already have in the fridge.

Photo: schfer/iStock

Get the recipe: Spaghetti with Brussels Sprouts and Mustard

Spaghetti is the first noodle most of us ate as kids, and with each twirl of the fork, we’re scooping up another few strands of nostalgia. Though I often take liberties with time-honored recipes, I know they’d make my family proud—and probably really hungry.

Colu Henry is the author of Back Pocket Pasta: Inspired Dinners to Cook on the Fly.

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