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Our experts agree that a bevy of quality boxed pastas line the shelves of even the most basic grocery stores these days. While you want to avoid some truly low-end pastas (unless flavorless and mushy is what you're aiming for), almost any of the popular midlevel brands (think Barilla or De Cecco) will help you serve up a heaping plate of Italian deliciousness—without blowing your budget. "You don't need to go crazy with super-gourmet and artisan pastas," explains Tramonto. "It's about what you put on and in the pastas, and not breaking the bank on dry pasta." He is also quick to suggest spending that extra money on fresh produce to go with your pasta dish.

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