16 pasta recipes, perfect from starch to finish

16 pasta recipes, perfect from starch to finish

Illustration for article titled 16 pasta recipes, perfect from starch to finish
Photo: Allison Robicelli

As much as pasta can be a cheap and easy crowd-pleaser, it’s just as easy to fall into a pasta rut. In those moments, you need a recipe that varies your routine, even if it’s a dish that can be cobbled together with minimal effort using only the dwindling contents of your fridge. So here’s a wide-ranging roundup of great pasta recipes, all in one place. You can bookmark it for the next time you’re staring down a box of fettuccine noodles in the cabinet, wondering if you’ve got the supplies to make them pop. You do, and they will.

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Garlicky Lemon Herb Macaroni Salad

Garlicky Lemon Herb Macaroni Salad

Garlicky Lemon Herb Macaroni Salad
Garlicky Lemon Herb Macaroni Salad
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Forget what you think you know about macaroni salad. Instead of mayo or Miracle Whip, this recipe starts with a rich, garlicky aioli. It also takes its cues from Hawaiian versions, in which the pasta is tossed with vinegar as soon as it’s out of the pot. And instead of the classic carrots and celery, we go all-in with curly parsley for a pleasing crunch. Your new favorite summer side dish awaits you. Get the recipe for Garlicky Lemon Herb Macaroni Salad here.

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Drunken Spaghetti

Drunken Spaghetti

[image provided by publisher]
Drunken Spaghetti
Image: William Morrow & Dey Street Books

This recipe comes courtesy of Katie Quinn, author of the cookbook Cheese, Wine, and Bread: Discovering the Magic of Fermentation in England, Italy, and France. The Tuscan preparation involves mixing the noodles with a cup of red wine, turning them a lovely plum color. “Spaghetti all’ubriaco—drunken spaghetti’—isn’t as inebriated as it sounds,” Quinn writes. “The heat burns off the alcohol in the wine.” Cheese, garlic, nuts, and red pepper flakes round out the dish, creating a satiny, photogenic plate of pasta. Get the recipe for Drunken Spaghetti here.

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Caramelized Mushroom Pasta

Caramelized Mushroom Pasta

Caramelized Mushroom Pasta
Caramelized Mushroom Pasta
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Though this recipe takes a decent amount of time to come together, nearly all of that time is inactive, requiring little more than occasional stirring. It starts with two whole pounds of mushrooms, because when an ingredient tastes this good, it’s best not to skimp on it. Miso and Parmesan cheese dial up the umami in this dish even further, forming one unforgettable plate of pasta. With this new approach, you’ll never need to settle for mediocre mushrooms again. Get the recipe for Caramelized Mushroom Pasta here.

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Ultimate Stuffed Shells

Ultimate Stuffed Shells

Ultimate Stuffed Shells
Ultimate Stuffed Shells
Photo: Allison Robicelli

For far too long, the term “stuffed shells” referred exclusively to a pasta dish in which shells are stuffed with cheese and baked in sauce. This recipe, though, consists of shells stuffed with sauce and baked in cheese, for an inside-out dinner experience that you will want to recreate again and again. Use the biggest baking dish you own for this, and don’t be surprised if there aren’t many leftovers at the end. Get the recipe for Ultimate Stuffed Shells here.

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Super Squash, Sage, & Shitake Pasta

Super Squash, Sage, & Shitake Pasta

[Image provided by Publisher]
Super Squash, Sage, & Shitake Pasta
Photo: Hardie Grant

Adopting a primarily plant-based diet is one of the best possible things you can do for the planet, and a great pasta recipe can make it that much easier to reduce your meat and dairy intake. This recipe comes to us from Plants Only Kitchen, the latest cookbook from Avant Garde Vegan’s Gaz Oakley. To make this a bit more weeknight-friendly, use pre-cut butternut squash that’s been chopped small, which will roast in as little as 20 minutes—just enough time for you to get the rest of the pasta together. Get the recipe for Super Squash, Sage, & Shitake Pasta here.

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Perfect Pasta Salad

Perfect Pasta Salad

Perfect Pasta Salad
Perfect Pasta Salad
Photo: Danny Palumbo

At every potluck throughout history, there has been pasta salad, a dish accompanied by some loose rules: no mayo (that’s a macaroni salad), some sort of oil and vinegar, and some combination of meat, cheese, and vegetables. But there exists a secret ingredient whose very purpose is to heighten pasta salad. It’s a spice blend called Salad Supreme, and you’ll never want to make another batch without it. Get the recipe for Perfect Pasta Salad here.

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Zucchini Pesto Pasta

Zucchini Pesto Pasta

Zucchini Pesto Pasta
Zucchini Pesto Pasta
Photo: Allison Robicelli

If you want to eat pasta while also getting a huge serving of vegetables, this is the way to do it. Zucchini has a ridiculously high water content, which makes it the perfect summer sauce when steamed and pureed. Throw in a bit of basil, cheese, and toasted nuts, and you’ve got a thick pesto “cream” sauce without spending $60 on groceries. You can 86 the cheese or swap it out for a plant-based alternative to make this sauce 100% vegan, and it’ll still taste luxurious and creamy. Get the recipe for Zucchini Pesto Pasta here.

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Crispy Gnocchi and Raw Tomato Sauce

Crispy Gnocchi and Raw Tomato Sauce

Crispy Gnocchi and Raw Tomato Sauce
Crispy Gnocchi and Raw Tomato Sauce
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Gnocchi is made from a mixture of flour and cooked potatoes, and its heft means that it should be treated differently from other pastas. This recipe approaches gnocchi more like croutons for a salad: the pasta is “fried” into crispy little potato nuggets with the help of an air fryer, then tossed with a raw tomato sauce that gains more flavor the longer it sits. Overall, it’s a versatile and cost-effective pasta dish that can be modified based on whatever produce and herbs are available. Even if you don’t have an air fryer, you should try roasting your gnocchi in the oven for a whole new approach to these doughy little dumplings. Find the recipe for Crispy Gnocchi and Raw Tomato Sauce here.

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Pasta With Blistered Tomatoes And Egg Yolk

Pasta With Blistered Tomatoes And Egg Yolk

Pasta With Blistered Tomatoes and Egg Yolk
Pasta With Blistered Tomatoes and Egg Yolk
Photo: A. E. Dwyer

This recipe is for when you’re missing summer tomatoes, which is, what, nine months of the year here in the Midwest? The key to evoking summer tomato flavor is your broiler. Get the tomatoes good and jammy and pair them with a silky egg yolk mixed right into the pasta just before you eat it—the result is a simple, memorable tagliatelle that will instantly transport you to warmer days. Get the recipe for Pasta With Blistered Tomatoes And Egg Yolk here.

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Chicken Sausage Hodgepodge Pasta

Chicken Sausage Hodgepodge Pasta

Chicken Sausage & Other Stuff Pasta
Chicken Sausage & Other Stuff Pasta
Photo: Allison Robicelli

The point of a well-stocked kitchen isn’t just to have things on hand that are listed in the recipes you use—it’s also to have things on hand that can be made delicious with very little little effort. This pasta wrangles grocery staples into one shockingly tasty dish, and makes enough that you’ll have plenty of leftovers even if you have a whole household to feed. You can add or subtract whichever elements you like depending on what’s in your fridge, but try working in grape tomatoes, feta, spinach, artichoke hearts, chicken sausage, and olives. Get the recipe for Chicken Sausage Hodgepodge Pasta here.

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Miso-Butter Spaghetti Carbonara

Miso-Butter Spaghetti Carbonara

Miso-Butter Spaghetti Carbonara
Miso-Butter Spaghetti Carbonara
Photo: Kevin Pang

Yoshoku, the Japanese take on on Western cooking, is a cuisine that never disappoints—especially Itameshi, or Japanese-Italian food, which features familiar pasta classics imbued with deeper umami flavor. This recipe tries to reproduce one such dish from Trattoria Nakamura-Ya in Las Vegas, using butter to bring all the disparate elements together. Strips of seasoned nori on top make this more identifiably Japanese, as does a dash of Tabasco sauce over the top. Get the recipe for Miso-Butter Spaghetti Carbonara here.

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Vodka Cream Pasta

Vodka Cream Pasta

Vodka Cream Pasta
Vodka Cream Pasta
Photo: Gwen Ihnat

The only real trick involved in this pasta is waiting it out. You need to give the tomatoes time to cook down, but really, that’s about it. The vodka adds a richness to the sauce (as does the cream, obviously), making this a delicious and super easy pantry dinner. One warning: don’t try to swap out the heavy cream for half-and-half, as it won’t bring the whole sauce together. Find the recipe for Vodka Cream Pasta here.

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Butter Braised Cabbage Fettuccine

Butter Braised Cabbage Fettuccine

Butter Braised Cabbage Fettuccine
Butter Braised Cabbage Fettuccine
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Green cabbage is some seriously underrated produce. It’s cheap, it has a long shelf life, and it’s damn tasty as long as you remember not to boil it. This pasta recipe borrows from Marcella Hazan’s revelatory recipe for Venetian smothered cabbage, which is impossibly easy to make. Its ingredients are pedestrian and cheap, and yet it’s somehow one of the most delicious things you could ever taste. Get the recipe for Butter Braised Cabbage Fettuccine here.

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Lemon Spaghetti, Inspired by Sophia Loren

Lemon Spaghetti, Inspired by Sophia Loren

Amped-up Lemon Spaghetti inspired by Sophia Loren
Amped-up Lemon Spaghetti inspired by Sophia Loren
Photo: Gwen Ihnat

This dish, adapted from Sophia Loren’s cookbook, comes together with astonishing ease. You can make the whole sauce while the water is boiling. Once you combine the base sauce with your spaghetti, fettuccine, or other thin pasta, then you are free to amp this dish up with whatever you’d like. At the end you will have a deceptively simple and delicious plate of pasta. It’s a little rich, but it’s also intoxicating—just like Sophia Loren herself. Get the recipe for Lemon Spaghetti here.

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Spaghetti Pie

Spaghetti Pie

Spaghetti Pie
Spaghetti Pie
Photo: Danny Palumbo

Nothing uses up leftovers like a spaghetti pie. Deli meats and stray vegetables get sautéed together in a pan with spaghetti. Add whisked eggs and cheese before throwing it into the oven. What comes out is, essentially, a frittata with spaghetti in it. It’s an easy way to wrangle in a bunch of miscellaneous ingredients into a Sunday supper (or hangover cure). Most importantly, the recipe is just a suggestion. You can take anything, put it into a sauté pan with spaghetti and eggs, and eat the results. Get the recipe for Spaghetti Pie here.

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Angel Hair Pasta with Canned Crab Meat

Angel Hair Pasta with Canned Crab Meat

Angel Hair Pasta with Canned Crab Meat
Angel Hair Pasta with Canned Crab Meat
Photo: Kevin Pang

Sometimes we find ourselves with pantry goods of utterly unknown origin. Canned or tinned seafood is a protein that often gets thrown into the grocery cart with the vague idea that “we can always use it for something.” But what? This pasta dish. It’s a recipe that can be thrown together in 10 minutes and makes use of angel hair pasta, crab meat, and whatever else is in your cupboards. Or, if canned crab meat isn’t something lurking in your pantry, you can just borrow this recipe’s technique of slow-caramelizing tomato paste + butter + lemon + protein, which will always result in something delicious. Get the recipe for Angel Hair Pasta with Canned Crab Meat here.

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