Our Best Pasta Recipes That Prove Tomato Sauce Doesn’t Get To Have All The Fun

Let pesto sauce and Alfredo shine in all their glory

Don’t get us wrong, recipes with tomato sauce are still great. We love a good spaghetti and meatballs with a classic marinara, but there’s just something unbeatable about noodles soaked in Alfredo sauce or smothered in pesto. These recipes are everything but basic, with everything from vegetarian pastas like potato-and-cheese-stuffed tortelli to macaroni and cheese baked with apples and sausage. Many of our best pasta recipes are made with cream sauces. So the next time you’re tomato-ed out, try one of these delicious variations for a fantastic meal.

Potato and Cheese Tortelli with Porcini Mushrooms
Potato and Cheese Tortelli with Porcini Mushrooms Heami Lee

“It’s a common misconception that tortelli and tortellini are the same,” chef Evan Funke of Felix in Los Angeles says. Unlike round tortellini, tortelli (the proper name for these ravioli-like stuffed pastas) are squares or rectangles simply folded over a filling and sealed. This is a thicker dough and more toothsome, too. A classic autumn condimento is a porcini mushroom sauce. “When it’s mushroom season in Italy, you eat porcini until you’re blue in the face,” says Funke. Get the recipe for Potato and Cheese Tortelli with Porcini Mushrooms »

Madilli di Seta
Madilli di Seta Michelle Heimerman

Mandilli di seta—large, thin pasta sheets—with pesto at Da Laura in San Fruttuoso. Get the recipe for Fresh Pasta Sheets with Pesto »

balanzoni
Spinach Balanzoni With Brown Butter and Sage Heami Lee

Funke uses a wheeled cutter to make even squares and a piping bag for the mortadella-and-cheese filling, but the perfect shape of these balanzoni? It’s all in the fingers. Get the recipe for Spinach Balanzoni With Brown Butter and Sage »

Noodles with Peas (Pasta e Piselli)
Noodles with Peas (Pasta e Piselli) Matt Taylor-Gross

The always-comforting combination of peas, bacon, and cheese, which comes from Romeo Salta’s The Pleasures of Italian Cooking, comes together in less than half an hour. Get the recipe for Noodles with Peas (Pasta e Piselli) »

Brown Butter Pasta
Brown Butter Pasta Todd Coleman

Hamilton gave us her recipe for this delicious pasta, which is tossed in brown butter and pine nuts, then topped with sunny-side-up eggs. Get the recipe for Brown Butter Pasta »

spaghetti
Rita Sodi’s Spaghetti with Garlic and Olive Oil Michelle Heimerman

Rita Sodi, a native Florentine, is the chef-owner of I Sodi, a restaurant in the West Village where she cooks rustic Italian food including heaping bowls of pasta. This simple dish, full of garlic and salty Pecorino, is surprisingly full flavored with a kick of heat from the extra crushed red pepper. Get the recipe for Rita Sodi’s Spaghetti with Garlic and Olive Oil »

corn fettucine recipe
Fettuccine With Corn Crema and Charred Green Onions Matt Taylor-Gross

For a creamy texture—without the cream—Philadelphia chef Marc Vetri purées fresh, starchy corn into a thick sauce that he then tosses with smoky scallions for a succulent summer pasta. This recipe has been adapted from Mastering Pasta (Ten Speed, 2015). Get the recipe for Fettuccine With Corn Crema and Charred Green Onions »

Morel and Asparagus Spaghetti
Morel and Asparagus Spaghetti Yossy Arefi

In this bright spring pasta dish of morels, asparagus, and cream, dried morels are rehydrated in boiling water that is then used to cook spaghetti, infusing the pasta with an earthy, mushroomy flavor. Get the recipe for Morel and Asparagus Spaghetti »

Pappardelle with Mixed Mushrooms, Ricotta, and Walnuts
Pappardelle with Mixed Mushrooms, Ricotta, and Walnuts Farideh Sadeghin

A mix of sautéed mushrooms, toasted walnuts, ricotta, thyme, honey, and pappardelle, this pasta dish needs only a green salad on the side. Get the recipe for Pappardelle with Mixed Mushrooms, Ricotta, and Walnuts »

Trenette with Pesto, Beans & Potatoes
Trenette with Pesto, Beans & Potatoes Todd Coleman

In this classic Genoese dish, fettuccine pasta is combined with string beans, baby red potatoes, and tossed with basil pesto. Get the recipe for Trenette with Pesto, Beans & Potatoes »

Pappardelle with Butternut Squash, Walnuts, and Baby Kale
Pappardelle with Butternut Squash, Walnuts, and Baby Kale Helen Rosner

Toasted walnuts, roasted butternut squash, baby kale, and a rich brown butter sauce combine over broad pappardelle noodles for a dish that perfectly captures fall’s best flavors. Get the recipe for Pappardelle with Butternut Squash, Walnuts, and Baby Kale »

FETTUCCINE WITH BRUSSELS SPROUTS, CRANBERRIES, AND CARAMELIZED ONION
Fettuccine with Brussels Sprouts, Cranberries, and Caramelized Onion Matt Taylor-Gross

Crisp-tender brussels sprouts and sweet-sour cranberries balance perfectly with a tangy vermouth-based broth in this pasta dish. Get the recipe for Fettuccine with Brussels Sprouts, Cranberries, and Caramelized Onion »

Pappardelle with Cauliflower and Mustard Brown Butter
Pappardelle with Cauliflower and Mustard Brown Butter Joseph De Leo

Simple ingredients—chewy, charred cauliflower, fried capers and bread crumbs, and browned butter, bolstered by whole grain mustard—combine for the ultimate late-winter pasta. Get the recipe for Pappardelle with Cauliflower and Mustard Brown Butter »

fettuccine with pesto cream
Fettuccine with Pesto Cream Sauce, Roasted Red Peppers, and Spinach Laura Sant

A combination of pesto, parmesan, and reduced cream makes a rich sauce for fettuccine or other long, thin pasta. The whole dish comes together quickly in just one pot, making it one of our favorites for a hearty weeknight dinner. Get the recipe for Fettuccine with Pesto Cream Sauce, Roasted Red Peppers, and Spinach »

Tagliatelle with Black Truffle Cream Sauce
Tagliatelle with Black Truffle Cream Sauce Ingalls Photography

For this luxurious dish, chef Robin Jackson, of Knight Inlet Lodge in British Columbia, lavishes pasta in a truffle-infused cream sauce and crowns it with chanterelles, lavender, pecorino, and shavings of truffle, which release their seductive aroma in the steam. Get the recipe for Tagliatelle with Black Truffle Cream Sauce »

Spaghetti alla Primavera
Spaghetti Alla Primavera Todd Coleman

I believe it started in 1975, when I visited Prince Edward Island with a number of colleagues, including Craig Claiborne of the New York Times. To eat we had only lobster and wild boar. After a week of this, everyone said, “Can we have some pasta?” I set out to make two dishes, one with vegetables, one Alfredo style. But in the end I mixed it all together, vegetables with spaghetti and cream. After Claiborne wrote about it in the Times, everybody started to come to Le Cirque and ask for spaghetti alla primavera. But my French chef said, “You want to do spaghetti? I don’t want spaghetti in my kitchen!” I didn’t want a crisis. So I decided to prepare it in the dining room, on a cart, tableside. It looked nice, and it tasted nice. We’ve never put it on the menu, but people still ask for it. —Sirio Maccioni, co-owner of Le Cirque restaurant in New York City Get the recipe for Spaghetti Alla Primavera »

Mac and Cheese with Sausage and Apple Casserole
Apple & Sausage Macaroni and Cheese Farideh Sadeghin

Fresh apples plus hard cider give this easy mac and cheese a double dose of fall flavor. Get the recipe for Apple & Sausage Macaroni and Cheese »

Dinner Party, Spring Pea Ravioli
Spring Pea Ravioli with Prosciutto & Pea Shoots Farideh Sadeghin

Homemade ravioli is a great weekend project recipe. Make them on a Sunday and freeze them for the week ahead; you can pop them directly in the boiling water from the freezer—they’ll just need an extra minute or so to cook. Get the recipe for Spring Pea Ravioli with Prosciutto & Pea Shoots »

Pear and Cheese Ravioli (Cacio e Pere)
Pear and Cheese Ravioli (Cacio e Pere) Ingalls Photography

Nothing says love like homemade pasta. Lidia Bastianich’s recipe mixes tender, sweet Bartlett pears with sharp pecorino and creamy mascarpone to make a rich filling for ravioli. Get the recipe for Pear and Cheese Ravioli (Cacio e Pere) »

chestnut tortellini
Chestnut Tortellini with Shallots and Sage Sauce Heami Lee

These fresh tortellini are made from a mixture of all-purpose flour and subtly sweet chestnut flour, then stuffed with pungent, savory chestnut purée and fluffy ricotta. Resting the dough overnight gives the tortellini a saturated brown color and deep, complex flavor. Get the recipe for Chestnut Tortellini with Shallots and Sage Sauce »

Simple Week Night Meal Tetrazzini
Turkey Tetrazzini Matt Taylor-Gross

This version of the American classic has a smattering of colorful vegetables and a sauce enriched by sherry and parmesan. Get the recipe for Turkey Tetrazzini »

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce
Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce Matt Taylor-Gross

These vibrant, mildly sweet gnocchi were developed by stylist Judy Haubert as a gluten-free option to accompany Portland chef Jenn Louis’ rich Gorgonzola cream sauce. Get the recipe for Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce »

Drunken Spaghetti
Drunken Spaghetti Michelle Heimerman

Spaghetti gets cooked in red wine in this quick pasta dish that comes together in under half an hour. Get the recipe for Drunken Spaghetti (Spaghetti All’Ubriaco) »

Artisanal Macaroni and Cheese
Artisanal Macaroni and Cheese Todd Coleman

Chef Terrance Brennan of the Manhattan restaurant Artisanal uses penne instead of the standard elbow macaroni for his take on the dish, which is topped with a crisp panko-Parmesan crust. Get the recipe for Artisanal Macaroni and Cheese »