The practicality, virtue and versatility of pasta are so widely acknowledged that there is little need here to do more than suggest a few more ways of preparing it for the table. Pasta made at home does taste better and cooks in a shorter time. But the following sauces are not above keeping company with commercial pastas if need be. They don't take long to make and are satisfying. PASTA WITH MUSHROOMS (Serves 4 to 6) 1 1/2 pounds small mushrooms, washed and halved or quartered 6 tablespoons butter 3 shallots or scallions, finely chopped 2 teaspoons dried rosemary 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 2 tablespoons brandy 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 1 cup chicken broth 1 cup heavy cream Salt and pepper to taste 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg 1 pound box of spaghetti, linguini or fettucini

Saute scallions. When softened add mushrooms, dried herbs, 1 tablespoon brandy and vinegar. Bring to a boil and cook 3 to 5 miuntes. Add broth and continue cooking 5 minutes more. Add cream, bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes to reduce somewhat. Add nutmeg; taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

Meanwhile prepare pasta in boiling, salted water. When just cooked, add a cup of cold water and remove from heat. Drain; spoon the pasta into abowl over remaining butter. Toss, then add hot mushroom sauce and toss again. Serve, with grated parmesan on the side, if desired. LUIG&'S ALFREDO VERSION (Serves 4 as appetizer) 1/2 pound fettucini 1/2 cup sour cream 2 tablespoons whipping cream 1 sticks (4 ounces) butter, cut up Salt and pepper 3 tablespoons parmessancheese Prepare fettucini in boiling, salted water. As it nears completion, mix sour cream and whipping cream. Drain cooked pasta, and toss in a pan with the butter and salt and pepper to taste. When butter has coated noodles, transfer to a hot serving platter. Add cream mixture and toss again. Add 2 tablespoons cheese and toss again just before serving. Sprinkle remaining cheese lightly over each portion.

The recipe above is from Luigi Zara, the chef of the Georgetown Club. PASTA WITH CLAMS (Serves 2 or 3) 1 can minced clams and broth to make 1/2 cup 1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth 1 tablespoon butter 1 shallot or scallion, finely chopped 1 clove garlie, finely chopped Freshly ground black pepper 2 teaspoons dried tarragon%*2 teaspoons arrowroot or cornstarch, mixed in 1 tablespoon wine 6 to 8 linguini 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Melt butter in a frying pan. Add shallot, garlic and, as they soften, add tarragon. Add clam juice, vermouth and a few grinds of pepper. Let simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes, or while preparing pasta. When pasta is barely cooked, add on e cup cold water to stop the cooking; remove from heat and drain. Add clams to frying pan to heat through. Add arrowroot and stir until liquid boils and thickens somwhat. Pour over pasta portions, Garnish with chopped parsley.

"Clams in the shell may be used. Plan to save 6 small ones to garnish each plate. Buy 1 dozen to 1 1/2 dozen cherrystones, acrub them and steam then in the wine for about 5 minutes or until their shells open. Strain broth through cheescloth, chop clams and continue recipe. PASTA WITH PORK AND TOMATO SAUCE (Serves 3 or 4) 1/2 pound leftover pork with fat cut away, cubed 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 medium onion, sliced 3 ribs celery, minced 1 large or 2 small cloves garlie, minced 4 medium fresh tomatoes,seeded and chopped, or an equal amount of canned Italian tomatoes 6 large basil leaves or 1 teaspoon dried basil Pinch of sugar Salt and freshly ground pepper Hot pepper flakes to taste (optional) 2 tablespoons Port or Madeira 12 to 16 ounces pasta of choice.

Heat oil and saute onion and clerry until wilted. Add garlic. As it begins to brown, add tomatoes, 4 basil leaves, minced (or all dried) basil, sugar, salt and pepper. As tomatoes gives off juice, mash them. When mixture reaches sauce consistency, add Port. Stir in and cover pan. Cook 5 to 10 minutes longer at a bane simmer. Add remaining basil which has been shredded and optional hot flakes. Adjust seasoning and serves ovr cooked and drained pasta. Pass parmesan at the table