Savory and satisfying, winter pasta is more robust than its light and airy summer counterpart. Hot, and sauced just enough so that the strands are coated, it is not unlike Chinese cooking in that a full pound of fresh or dried pasta uses just enough protein to add interest and taste in the same way a stir-fry uses meat or poultry as a special enhancement.

What is tantalizing about pasta is that it fits within different meal planning schemes, whether being used as a light starter, appearing as a luncheon dish, or as a lavish contemporary main dish. Most times, a dish of pasta artfully combines protein, starch and vegetable, making for a quick menu-on-a-plate.

Recipes for all-vegetable pastas would not be harmed by the addition of a little protein (not more than a half pound per pound of pasta).

Both the boxed imported durum wheat pasta and the somewhat silkier freshly made egg-and-flour type are intriguing bases to set off many tastes. The fettuccine with red and yellow peppers carries with it a subtle, lighthearted flavor. The sauce, merely a simmering of heavy cream and saute'ed peppers, is dramatic in a simple way; the savory juices from the peppers mingle nicely with the cream, and in the end, parmesan cheese is tossed through to add tang and to bind.

The linguine with prosciutto, walnuts and watercress follows the same design. Strands of prosciutto get tossed up with an amalgam of butter, heavy cream, and onion as one flavor. Not until the dish is finished with a last-minute addition of toasted walnuts, parmesan and snappy watercress leaves is the second set of tastes blended with the first. The watercress is barely cooked by the heat of the pasta and sauce and so still retains its bite. The oiliness of the walnuts and the mellowness of the cheese contrast with the watercress leaves, and the whole composition looks beautiful on the plate.

For sturdy, belly-filling pasta that does not hide its lustiness, there's perciatelli with bacon and rigatoni with sausage. Both recipes use a tubular pasta and an intense tomato-base sauce. Perciatelli is thick and hollow spaghetti-like lengths of durum wheat pasta that taste good when laced with a spicy sauce such as the one that follows built on Canadian bacon, red pepper flakes, chopped onion and garlic. If you can, buy the bacon by the chunk, not the slice, then you can be assured of moist and flavorful chunks of meat.

The rigatoni dish does not draw on the intensity of hot peppers or tomatoes, but by contrast, uses heavy cream and crumbled sweet sausage. Thus the sauce is a bit richer and subdued. The sausage bits fleck the cream and cling to the hollows and ridges of the boiled rigatoni.

Tangles of spaghetti (combined with an anchovy sauce) and spaghettini (mixed with a sauce of tuna, tomatoes, capers, and garlic) are extra-fast to assemble. Just like the sauces mentioned previously, the sauce can be put together in the time it takes to bring a large kettle of water to boil for cooking the pasta. If you keep anchovy fillets and good tuna in the pantry, the sauces can be made merely by raiding the cupboard. Both sauces wash over and mingle among the strands of pasta, enlivening them as they are tossed. Assertive bits of capers and tomatoes keep the tuna sauce perky, while the melted down choppings of anchovy flavor the sauce in a smoother way.

These, then, are the pastas that are sure to brighten winter meals: PERCIATELLI WITH CANADIAN BACON (4 hearty servings of 6 appetizer servings)

Rustic and filling, this pasta is lovely served on its own, or it may precede a simple saute' of chicken or veal.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or to taste

6 ounces Canadian bacon, rind removed, diced

2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, with their juice, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

2 teaspoons tomato paste

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 pound boxed durum wheat perciatelli (thick, hollow, spaghetti-length pasta)

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

In a heavy saucepan, place the butter and olive oil and heat until butter has melted. Stir in the onion and cook slowly for 4 minutes; stir in the garlic, cook 1 minute. Add hot pepper flakes and bacon; stir-cook for 2 minutes over moderate heat. Stir in tomatoes, rosemary, tomato paste, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer over moderate heat for 10 minutes, or until lightly thickened.

Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water until just firm to the bite. Drain well, then toss with the hot sauce and parmesan cheese. Serve the pasta from warm individual bowls or plates.

Pass extra grated parmesan cheese for each person to sprinkle atop his serving, if you like. FETTUCCINE WITH RED AND YELLOW PEPPERS (4 hearty servings or 6 appetizer servings)

Ribbons of pasta among brightly colored matchsticks of red and green pepper.

9 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 red pepper, cored, seeded and cut into thin strips

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 pound fresh egg fettuccine

3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese plus extra for passing

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsely leaves

Heat 6 tablespoons butter over moderate heat in a saucepan; when the foam has subsided, add the pepper strips and saute' until barely tender. Pour in the cream. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Bring to the simmer; cook slowly until the cream just coats the back of a spoon in a thin haze -- no longer.

Boil the fettuccine in a large pot of salted water until just firm to the bite. Drain well, then toss with the pepper-cream sauce, 3/4 cup parmesan, 3 tablespoons butter, softened at room temperature and parsley. Transfer the pasta to a large warm bowl or to individual heated plates. Serve with the extra cheese, if you like. RIGATONI WITH SAUSAGE (4 hearty servings or 6 appetizer servings)

Substantial nuggets of sausage winding through a creamy sauce, all clinging to tubular rigatoni.

8 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces good quality sweet sausage, skinned and crumbled

1 1/2 cup heavy cream

1 pound imported boxed durum wheat rigatoni

3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Extra grated parmesan cheese, for passing, optional

In a saucepan, heat 6 tablespoons butter and the oil over moderate heat until the butter melts down. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook slowly for 5 minutes (do not allow the onion to brown). Season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to moderately high, add the sausage and stir-cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the sausage looses all of its raw, red color. Pour in the cream, reduce the heat to low, and simmer everything for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce is very lightly thickened and the sausage cooked through.

Boil the rigatoni in a large pot of salted water until just firm to the bite. Drain well, then toss with the hot sauce, 2 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature, and 3/4 cup cheese. Serve the pasta from a large warmed bowl or on individual plates, offering extra grated cheese on the side, if you like. LINGUINE WITH PROSCIUTTO, WALNUTS, AND WATERCRESS (4 hearty servings or 6 appetizer servings)

This is a pretty dish, with the small leaves of watercress and walnut bits giving zest and crunch to the soft egg linguine. The prosciutto contributes its own slightly salty and meaty qualities.

9 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 small onion, finely chopped

6 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced, cut into slender strips

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Pinch allspice Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 pound fresh egg linguine

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup lightly toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup (lightly packed measurement) watercress leaves

In a large saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons butter over moderate heat; add the onion and cook slowly for 4 minutes, or until wilted but not browned. Stir in the prosciutto and heavy cream. Season with the nutmeg, allspice, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 4 to 5 minutes or until the cream has thickened lightly. Taste the sauce for additional salt and pepper.

Boil the linguine in a large pot of salted water until just firm to the bite. Drain well, then toss with the prosciutto-cream sauce, 3 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature, cheese, walnuts and watercress. Serve the pasta from a large warmed bowl or on warmed individual plates. SPAGHETTI WITH ANCHOVY SAUCE (4 hearty servings or 6 appetizer servings)

Good and simple, this anchovy-based sauce is not too pungent -- the taste of the anchovies is tempered by the tomatoes, parsley, and olive oil.

4 small garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

10 anchovy fillets (preferably those packed in olive oil), roughly chopped

4 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, with their juice, roughly chopped

1 pound imported boxed durum wheat spaghetti

In a heavy saucepan, place the garlic and olive oil; set over moderately low heat and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook the garlic for 2 minutes longer.

Stir in the anchovy fillets and let them melt down, stirring, about 2 minutes. Stir in the parlsey. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a rapid simmer; continue to simmer rapidly for about 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Taste for additional salt and pepper (this sauce should be piquant at this stage, as the pasta dispells some of the seasoning when everything is combined).

Boil the spaghetti in a large pot of salted water until just firm to the bite. Drain well, then toss with the toss. Serve the spaghetti from a large warmed bowl or on individual warmed plates. E SPAGHETTI WITH TUNA SAUCE (4 hearty servings or 6 appetizer servings)

The most flavorful sauce is made using tuna packed in olive oil, available at Italian groceries, many specialty food stores, and some major chain markets. If you are serving this pasta as a first course, follow it with a grilled or broiled main course, as this is a fairly substantial dish.

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, with their juice, roughly chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon tiny, non-pareil capers, rinsed in cool water, drained on toweling, dried and chopped

8 ounces tuna packed in olive oil, well drained and flaked

1 pound imported boxed durum wheat spaghettini

In a large saucepan, combine the garlic, onion, and 1/4 cup olive oil; set over moderately low heat and cook until the onion has wilted, about 4 minutes. Stir in the parsley and thyme; cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a rapid simmer, and continue simmering for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly thickened. Stir in the capers and tuna; taste for additional salt and pepper.

Boil the spaghettini in a large pot of salted water until just firm to the bite. Drain well, then toss with the hot sauce and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Serve from a large warmed bowl or on individual warmed plates or bowls.