Family-Friendly Pasta Dishes

Pasta is one of our go-to meals to prepare for the whole family: satisfying and crowd-pleasing, it’s easy to dress up for a special occasion or dress down for a casual weeknight dinner. From a classic mac and cheese to an elegant garganelli with peas and prosciutto, these 18 accessible pasta recipes will please kids and adults alike.

Rigatoni in Tomato Sauce

Hearty, satisfying rigatoni tossed in a simple tomato-herb sauce makes an unbelievably easy main dish. Get the recipe for Rigatoni in Tomato Sauce »

Pasta with Sausage and Cheese

In this dish from Epirus, pork sausage, blue cheese, and fresh oregano are a gorgeous counterpoint to pasta. See the recipe for Pasta with Sausage and Cheese »

Tagliatelle with Poppy Seeds and Prosciutto

Poppy seeds lend their toasty aroma to a creamy pasta dish based on one served by chef Matthew Accarrino at SPQR in San Francisco. Get the recipe for Tagliatelle with Poppy Seeds and Prosciutto »

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Lou Di Palo shared his grandmother’s recipe for the meatballs that he sells at his family’s store, Di Palo’s Fine Foods, in New York City; they’re composed of pork, beef, and veal and flavored with four kinds of cheese. See the recipe for Spaghetti and Meatballs »

Garganelli with Peas and Prosciutto

Eye-catching sweet peas and salty prosciutto create a bright contrast of color and flavor in this creamy pasta dish.

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 »

Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli

These tender ravioli are filled with spinach and cheese and topped with a tangy tomato sauce bolstered with mushrooms, zucchini, and squash.

Farfalle with Cavolo Nero Pesto

In this rendition of traditional Genoese pesto, sweet and nutty cavolo nero (also known as Tuscan kale or Lacinato kale) is used in place of basil and pine nuts. Get the recipe for Farfalle with Cavolo Nero Pesto »

Kale and Sausage Penne with Lemon Cream Sauce

This is a pasta dish of strong flavors: dark, earthy kale is offset by bright lemon cream and a warm, aromatic heat from crushed red chiles and garlic.

Four-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

This crowd-pleasing macaroni and cheese gets some added complexity from shallots, thyme and paprika. But the secret to this ultracreamy dish? A little Velveeta (yes, really!) mixed in with the other cheeses. See the recipe for Four-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese »

Veal Pasta Sauce with Red, Green, and Yellow Peppers

This sauce was given to us by author Marcella Hazan, who noted,”The veal is cooked separately and combined later with the peppers to preserve its juiciness.” Get the recipe for Veal Pasta Sauce with Red, Green, and Yellow Peppers »

Fettuccine Alfredo

This crowd-pleaser is made with only 3 ingredients, and works even better with dried pasta, which doesn’t break as easily during tossing as fresh pasta. See the recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo »

Macaroni with Goat Cheese, Spinach, and Tomatoes

Fresh goat cheese makes a creamy, velvety sauce for pasta baked with spinach and topped with sliced tomatoes that is bright with festive colors, and deeply comforting. And as it takes only slightly longer than an hour to cook, this can be a main player in a delicious and casual last-minute Christmas dinner.

Gnocchi with Pesto

Tender potato dumplings dressed in basil pesto and covered in grated parmesan is a comforting crowd-pleaser. See the recipe for Gnocchi with Pesto »

Spaghetti all’Amatriciana

The Italian pasta classic features a slow-simmered tomato sauce infused with lots of bacon. What’s not to love? See the recipe for Spaghetti all’Amatriciana »

Shrimp Scampi

This simple, delicious seafood pasta, full of flavor from garlic, shallots, and red chile flakes, is a staple of Italian-American restaurants. See the recipe for Shrimp Scampi »
This hearty lasagne from Rubirosa in New York City is made with sweet fennel sausage and tiny meatballs. See the recipe for Lasagne »

Pasta with Cauliflower in a Spicy Pink Sauce

Cauliflower and pasta is baked in a spicy tomato-cream in a comforting recipe adapted from Johanne Killeen and George Germon’s Cucina Simpatica (Harper Collins, 1991) by Tim Mazurek for his column Cucina Simpatica. See the recipe for Pasta with Cauliflower in a Spicy Pink Sauce »