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Mezzamaniche
In Rome’s beloved version of pasta all’amatriciana, the crushed tomatoes and their juices are simmered in lard or the rendered fat of guanciale, a cured pork jowl that also garnishes the dish Beth Galton

Fast and easy dinners are always welcome in our home (we need something to balance all the fun project cooking after all). But if we can avoid sacrificing flavor or quality of ingredients along the way, that’s all the better.

It’s nothing new that pasta is a classic and respectable go-to when you’re in a time crunch or you (or your kids) just have a hankering for comfort food. It’s affordable, feeds a crowd, and can get a gourmet meal (hear us out) on the table in an instant. But strategic Italian-inspired choices like buying the best-quality dried pasta (or, if you have time, making your own), garnishing with fresh herbs or premium cheese, and starting with top-notch extra-virgin olive oil can go a long way in delivering a superlative dish.

Whether hearty and cheesy baked macaronis, vegetable-driven noodles, or simply sauced stuffed pastas, these family-friendly pasta recipes are perfect for weeknight cooking yet creative enough to save you from a dinner rut. Best of all, they’ll be ready before you can even say “pesto.”

"Noodles

Noodles with Peas (Pasta e Piselli)

Noodles with Peas (Pasta e Piselli)
"Penne

Penne alla Vodka

Whether or not this dish of tube-shaped penne pasta lavished with a peppery, vodka-laced cream and tomato sauce was created in Italy is a matter of heated debate in some quarters; some say it was the result of aggressive marketing on the part of vodka importers. Whatever the case, it has become firmly entrenched as an Italian American classic. Get the recipe for Penne alla Vodka »

Mezze Maniche All’Amatriciana a Modena

Along with spaghetti and bucatini, mezze maniche rigate, a ridged tube akin to a half rigatoni, is traditional with amatriciana in Rome, but fusilli, which Bottura uses as an alternative, is great for lapping up the sauce. Get the recipe for Mezze Maniche All’Amatriciana a Modena »
"Pappardelle

Pappardelle with Cauliflower and Mustard Brown Butter

Pappardelle with Cauliflower and Mustard Brown Butter
"Pasta

Pasta Alla Norma (Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Eggplant)

Chef Sara Jenkins of New York City’s Porchetta gave us the recipe for this spicy, comforting pasta dish, inspired by one made by Italian chef Salvatore Denaro. Get the recipe for Pasta Alla Norma (Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Eggplant) »
"Spaghetti

Spaghetti Primavera

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. Get the recipe for Spaghetti Primavera »
"VEGETARIAN

Vegetarian Lasagne

No one will miss the meat in this creamy, vegetable-laden lasagne with perfectly al dente noodles. Get the recipe for Vegetarian Lasagne »
"Simple

Homemade Spaghettio’s

The childhood classic gets a makeover with ring-shaped anelletti pasta and a simple sweet sauce made rich by a dollop of tomato paste and onions cooked down in butter. Get the recipe for Homemade Spaghettio’s »
"Pasta

Pasta with Carrots, Risotto-Style

We adapted this recipe from The Minimalist Cooks Dinner by Mark Bittman (Broadway Books, 2001). If you can’t find the short, twisted “twin” pasta called gemelli, use penne instead. Get the recipe for Pasta with Carrots, Risotto-Style »
"Farfalle

Farfalle with Cavolo Nero Pesto

Farfalle with Cavolo Nero Pesto
"Artisanal

Artisanal Macaroni and Cheese

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 »
"lasagne"

Lasagne

This hearty lasagne from Rubirosa in New York City is made with sweet fennel sausage and tiny meatballs. Get the recipe for Lasagne »
"Lasagna"

Classic Easy Lasagna

Lasagna gets a bad rap for being a labor-intensive dish, but with a few shortcuts, like starting with store-bought lasagna sheets, you can make a great cheesy version any night of the week. Get the recipe Classic Easy Lasagna »
Classically Roman, this garlicky pasta dish—as interpreted by Nick Anderer of Maialino and Marta in New York City—is brightened with pepperoncino and a handful of vibrant parsley. It gets a hit of salt from grated Grana Padano and roundness from extra-virgin olive oil. Get the recipe for Nick Anderer’s Spaghetti with Garlic and Olive Oil »
"Spaghetti

Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Lamb and Sweet Pepper Ragù

Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Lamb and Sweet Pepper Ragù
"bowl

Fettuccine Alfredo

This extra-rich version of fettuccine Alfredo is impossible to resist. Boiling the pasta until it’s just al dente allows it to soak up plenty of the creamy sauce. Get the recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo »
"William

Pasta Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Pasta salad is a Virginia country-store staple, to which Mason Hereford applies his signature culinary move: elevating humble dishes without sacrificing their essence. Al dente penne gets decked out with lemony buttermilk dressing, sweet peppers, and crunchy seeds. Get the recipe for Pasta Salad with Buttermilk Dressing »
"Simple

Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey Tetrazzini
"Fusilli

Fusilli With Scampi, Cranberry, and Peas

We whipped up this tasty dish during a trip to Venice, using fresh ingredients we found at the local markets. You won’t find Venetian scampi in this country; substitute good-quality baby shrimp. Get the recipe for Fusilli With Scampi, Cranberry, and Peas »
"Pappardelle

Pappardelle with Mixed Mushrooms, Ricotta, and Walnuts

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 »
"Dinner

Spring Pea Ravioli with Prosciutto & Pea Shoots

Spring Pea Ravioli with Prosciutto & Pea Shoots
"Spaghetti

Spaghetti with Oven-Roasted Tomatoes and Caramelized Fennel

We like to serve this pasta topped with a little shaved bottarga, the dried salted roe of tuna or gray mullet; a sprinkle adds a briny, salty note that beautifully offsets sweet, oven roasted plum tomatoes. Get the recipe for Spaghetti with Oven-Roasted Tomatoes and Caramelized Fennel »

Pesto and Trofie Pasta

In Genoa, pesto is most commonly tossed with trofie, a short, twisted pasta, or trennete, a thin, flat noodle. Never heat pesto on its own—the pasta will warm it—and add it sparingly (around ½ cup pesto per pound of pasta). Get the recipe for Pesto and Trofie Pasta »
"Rigatoni

Rigatoni with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Spicy Sausage

For a riff on classic pasta alla norma, try adding spicy Italian sausage to pasta laden with eggplant and sweet tomatoes. Get the recipe for Rigatoni with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Spicy Sausage »
"Simple

Summer Bolognese

This recipe for summer bolognese has the classic comfort of bolognese, but without the heaviness of a red sauce, instead embracing the summer’s bounty of gorgeous tomatoes and fresh basil.
"Orecchiette

Orecchiette with Rapini and Goat Cheese

Slightly bitter rapini (also known as broccoli rabe) marries well with tangy goat cheese in a pasta recipe that’s ideal for summer picnics and potlucks. Get the recipe for Orecchiette with Rapini and Goat Cheese »
"Four

Four Cheese Mac and Cheese

This ultra-creamy, decadent mac and cheese—with sharp white cheddar, Gruyère, blue cheese, and, yes, a touch of Velveeta—is one of the best we’ve ever tried. Get the recipe for Four Cheese Mac and Cheese »
"Gemelli

Gemelli with Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower

Cauliflower roasted until sweet with garlic and cumin gets tossed with toothsome gemelli pasta, golden raisins, and slivered almonds for crunch. Get the recipe for Gemelli with Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower »

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