50 Pasta Dinners

Pick a sauce and try something new for pasta night. 

Related To:
Pasta Basics
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add 1 pound pasta and cook as the label directs, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, prepare your sauce in a large skillet.
  • Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add to the skillet and toss with the sauce, adding the reserved pasta water as needed to loosen.

1. Marinara Cook 6 sliced garlic cloves in olive oil over medium heat until golden. Add one 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (crushed by hand) and 1 cup water; season with salt and red pepper flakes. Simmer 15 minutes; stir in 1/2 cup chopped basil. Add cooked spaghetti and toss, adding up to 1/2 cup pasta water.

2. Meatball Make Pasta Marinara (No. 1), using 2 1/2 cups water. Finely chop 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, 1/2 onion and 2 garlic cloves in a food processor. Mix with 1 pound each ground beef and pork, 1 large egg, and 1 cup each breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan; form into 24 meatballs and simmer in the sauce 30 minutes. Add the pasta and toss.

3. Vodka Make Pasta Marinara (No. 1) with penne, adding 1/2 cup cream and 1/4 cup vodka with the tomatoes.

4. Arrabbiata Make Pasta Marinara (No. 1) with fusilli, cooking 4 halved dried chiles de arbol with the garlic. Discard the chiles before serving.

5. Norma Saute 1 chopped eggplant in olive oil until browned. Make Pasta Marinara (No. 1) with rigatoni, adding the eggplant with the tomatoes. Top with ricotta.

6. Peas and Pancetta Make Pasta Marinara (No. 1) with rigatoni, sauteing 4 ounces diced pancetta in the oil before adding the garlic. Add 1 cup frozen peas and 1/2 cup cream during the last 5 minutes of simmering.

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Shrimp Fra Diavolo (No. 7) 

Photo by: Con Poulos

Con Poulos

7. Shrimp Fra Diavolo Make Pasta Marinara (No. 1) with bucatini, using 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Saute 1 pound peeled medium shrimp in olive oil until cooked through; add to the pasta and toss.

8. Amatriciana Saute 4 ounces diced pancetta in olive oil over medium heat until almost crisp. Add 2 sliced onions; cook until softened. Add one 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (crushed by hand) and 1 cup water; season with salt and red pepper flakes. Simmer 20 minutes; stir in 1/2 cup chopped parsley. Add cooked bucatini and toss, adding up to 1/2 cup pasta water. Stir in 3/4 cup grated Parmesan.

9. Mushroom Amatriciana Make Pasta Amatriciana (No. 8) with penne, cooking 2 minced garlic cloves and 8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms with the onions.

10. Amatriciana with Clams Make Pasta Amatriciana (No. 8), cooking 2 minced garlic cloves with the onions. Add 12 littleneck clams during the last 5 minutes of simmering, cover and cook until they open.

11. Spicy Clam Cook 3 pounds clams in 3/4 cup each white wine and water over medium-high heat, covered, until they open, about 7 minutes. Strain and reserve the juices. Saute 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves and 1 chopped jalapeno in olive oil until the garlic is golden. Add the clam juices; simmer until reduced by half. Add cooked spaghetti, the clams and 1/3 cup chopped parsley and toss.

12. Mussels Saute 6 sliced garlic cloves and 1 sliced shallot in olive oil over medium-high heat until golden. Add 2 pounds mussels and 1 cup white wine; cover and cook until they open, 3 minutes. Add 1 cup cream and 3 tablespoons butter; cook until thickened. Add cooked linguine and up to 1/2 cup pasta water. Stir in 1/4 cup each chopped parsley and chives and the zest of 1 lemon.

13. Garlicky Scallops Season 1 pound bay scallops with salt, then sear in 1/3 cup olive oil over high heat, 1 1/2 minutes per side; transfer to a plate. Add 8 sliced garlic cloves to the oil and cook over medium heat until golden. Add 1/2 cup white wine, the zest of 1 lemon and some salt and red pepper flakes; simmer until reduced by half. Add cooked spaghettini and 3 tablespoons butter; toss, adding up to 1/2 cup pasta water. Add 1/2 cup chopped parsley and the scallops. Top with toasted breadcrumbs.

14. Puttanesca Cook 6 sliced garlic cloves, 1/2 cup chopped black olives, 1/4 cup drained capers and 4 chopped anchovies in olive oil over medium heat until the garlic is golden. Add 1 cup water, one 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (crushed by hand) and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. Simmer 15 minutes; stir in 1/2 cup chopped parsley. Add cooked fusilli and toss, adding up to 1/2 cup pasta water.

15. Tuna Puttanesca Make Pasta Puttanesca (No. 14), adding two 7-ounce cans drained oil-packed tuna with the tomatoes.

16. Bolognese Brown 12 ounces each ground beef and pork in olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 each chopped onion, carrot and celery stalk; cook until softened. Add one 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (crushed by hand), 2 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and some salt and red pepper flakes. Simmer 1 hour; stir in 1/2 cup chopped parsley. Add cooked spaghetti and toss, adding up to 1/2 cup pasta water. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

17. Sloppy Joe Make Pasta Bolognese (No. 16) with gemelli, omitting the celery and using one 28-ounce can tomato puree instead of whole tomatoes. Simmer only 30 minutes; omit the parsley. Use 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar instead of Parmesan.

18. Cheeseburger Brown 1 pound ground beef in olive oil over medium heat. Stir in 3/4 cup ketchup and 1/2 cup each chopped pickles and onions. Add cooked macaroni and 1 cup shredded cheddar and toss.

19. Lamb-Mint Brown 1 pound ground lamb in olive oil over medium heat. Add 2 sliced garlic cloves and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes and cook until golden. Add two 14-ounce cans cherry tomatoes and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Simmer 5 minutes; stir in 1/4 cup chopped mint. Add cooked gemelli and toss. Top with shaved ricotta salata.

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Sausage and Peppers (No. 20)

Photo by: Con Poulos

Con Poulos

20. Sausage and Peppers Brown 1 pound sliced Italian sausage in olive oil over medium-high heat; transfer to a plate. Add 2 sliced bell peppers, 1 sliced onion and 4 sliced garlic cloves to the oil and cook until softened; add 1/2 cup dry white wine. Add one 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (crushed by hand) and 1 cup water; stir in 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and season with salt and red pepper flakes. Simmer 15 minutes; stir in 1/2 cup chopped parsley. Add cooked rigatoni and the sausage and toss, adding up to 1/2 cup pasta water. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

21. Sausage–Broccoli Rabe Brown 1 pound crumbled Italian sausage in olive oil over medium heat. Add 8 sliced garlic cloves; cook until golden. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. Add 1 bunch chopped broccoli rabe and 1/2 cup pasta water. Simmer until tender; stir in 1/2 cup chopped parsley. Add cooked penne and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan and toss.

22. Garlic Oil Cook 8 sliced garlic cloves in 1/3 cup olive oil over medium-high heat until golden; season with salt and red pepper flakes. Add 1 cup pasta water and simmer until reduced by half. Add cooked linguine and 1/2 cup each chopped parsley and grated Parmesan; toss.

23. Garlic-Lemon Make Pasta with Garlic Oil (No. 22), cooking 4 chopped anchovies and the zest and juice of 1 lemon with the garlic. Use 4 broken dried chiles de arbol instead of red pepper flakes.

24. Garlic-Walnut Make Pasta with Garlic Oil (No. 22), cooking 6 chopped anchovies with the garlic. Use only 1/2 cup pasta water. Add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts with the Parmesan.

25. Garlic-Broccoli Make Pasta with Garlic Oil (No. 22) with orecchiette, tossing 1 small bunch broccoli florets with the garlic before adding the water. Cover and cook 1 minute before reducing by half.

26. Garlic-Cauliflower Make Pasta with Garlic Oil (No. 22) with orecchiette, sauteing 1 head cauliflower florets in the oil before adding the garlic and 4 chopped anchovies. Use only 1/2 cup pasta water. Top with toasted breadcrumbs.

27. Garlic-Chickpea Make Pasta with Garlic Oil (No. 22) with rigatoni, browning two 15-ounce cans chickpeas (rinsed and patted dry) in the oil before adding the garlic. Use only 1/2 cup pasta water. Omit the parsley. Toss with 6 cups arugula and the zest of 1 lemon.

28. Artichoke-Zucchini Make Pasta with Garlic Oil (No. 22) with spaghetti, sauteing one 10-ounce package thawed frozen artichokes and 1 sliced zucchini in the oil before adding the garlic. Use only 1/2 cup pasta water. Use mint and pecorino instead of parsley and Parmesan.

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Mixed Mushroom (No. 29)

Photo by: Con Poulos

Con Poulos

29. Mixed Mushroom Make Pasta with Garlic Oil (No. 22) with pappardelle, sauteing 1 1/2 pounds sliced mixed mushrooms in the oil before adding the garlic; cook 1 minced shallot with the garlic. Use only 1/2 cup pasta water. Add 3 tablespoons butter with the pasta.

30. Tuna Nicoise Make Pasta with Garlic Oil (No. 22), using only 1/2 cup pasta water. Toss with one 14-ounce can white beans (rinsed), one 7-ounce can oil packed tuna, 1/4 cup chopped olives and the zest of 1 lemon.

31. Escarole-Corn Cook 6 slices chopped bacon over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, 6 sliced garlic cloves, 6 cups chopped escarole and 1 cup corn; season with salt and red pepper flakes and saute 2 minutes. Add cooked gemelli and toss, adding up to 1/2 cup pasta water. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Season with salt.

32. Green Bean–Corn Cook 4 slices chopped bacon over medium heat until just crisp. Add 2 chopped garlic cloves and 1 chopped onion; season with salt and pepper and saute until the garlic is golden. Stir in 1 cup corn, 4 ounces halved green beans, 1 chopped tomato and 2 tablespoons butter; cook 3 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup chicken broth; simmer 3 minutes. Add cooked rotelle and 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese and toss.

33. Pesto Puree 2 cups fresh basil, 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts and 1 garlic clove in a food processor until smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in 1/3 cup olive oil. Pulse in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Toss with cooked spaghetti, adding up to 1/2 cup pasta water. Season with salt and pepper.

34. Pea Pesto Make Pesto Pasta (No. 33) with farfalle, pureeing 1 1/4 cups thawed frozen peas with the basil and using 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 cup olive oil and 1 cup grated Parmesan. Add up to 3/4 cup pasta water.

35. Parsley-Walnut Pesto Make Pesto Pasta (No. 33), using parsley instead of basil and toasted walnuts instead of pine nuts.

36. Kale-Almond Pesto Make Pesto Pasta (No. 33) with gemelli, using baby kale instead of basil and toasted almonds instead of pine nuts.

37. Tomato-Almond Pesto Make Pesto Pasta (No. 33) with linguine, using blanched almonds instead of pine nuts, 2 garlic cloves and 1/2 cup olive oil. Add 1 pound grated tomatoes with the Parmesan.

38. Carbonara Cook 6 slices chopped thick-cut bacon in olive oil over medium heat. Add freshly cooked spaghetti and 1/2 cup pasta water. Stir in 4 lightly beaten eggs, 1 cup grated Parmesan and 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper and cook, tossing constantly, until creamy. Stir in 1/4 cup chopped parsley. Season with salt.

39. Bacon-Parsnip Cook 6 slices chopped bacon in 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add 2 chopped parsnips and cook until tender. Add cooked orecchiette, 1/2 cup each chopped parsley and grated Parmesan, and a pinch of grated nutmeg; toss.

40. Alfredo Melt 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Whisk in 2 cups cream and a pinch of nutmeg; bring to a simmer. Add cooked fettuccine and toss, adding up to 1/2 cup pasta water. Stir in 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.

41. Gorgonzola Alfredo Make Pasta Alfredo (No. 40) with pappardelle, whisking in 4 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola with the cream.

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Four Cheese Alfredo (No. 42)

Photo by: Con Poulos

Con Poulos

42. Four-Cheese Alfredo Make Pasta Alfredo (No. 40) with tortellini. Stir in 1/2 cup each grated mozzarella and Parmesan, 1/2 cup cubed Taleggio and 1/4 cup mascarpone instead of only Parmesan. Add 6 cups baby spinach and stir until wilted.

43. Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Saute 12 ounces sliced white mushrooms and 1 chopped garlic clove in olive oil over medium-high heat until golden. Add 1 cup cream; bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Stir in 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (skin removed), 1 cup shredded mozzarella, 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon and/or parsley, and 1 teaspoon lemon zest. Add cooked spaghetti and toss.

44. Porcini Mushroom Rinse 1/4 oun1. Marinara Cook 6 sliced garlic cloves in olive oil over medium heat until golden. Add one 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (crushed by hand) and 1 cup water; season with salt and red pepper flakes. Simmer 15 minutes; stir in 1/2 cup chopped

45. Cacio e Pepe Melt 6 tablespoons butter with 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper over medium-high heat. Whisk in 1 cup pasta water; simmer 4 minutes. Add cooked spaghetti and 1 cup grated pecorino; toss. Season with salt.basil. Add cooked spaghetti and toss, adding up to 1/2 cup pasta water.

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04_BrownButterRavioli_041.tif

Brown Butter Poppy Seed (No. 47)

Photo by: Con Poulos

Con Poulos

46. Brown Butter–Sage Cook 1 stick butter over medium heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves; cook 1 minute. Add 1 cup pasta water; simmer 4 minutes. Add cooked ravioli and 1 cup grated Parmesan; toss. Season with salt and pepper.

47. Brown Butter–Poppy Seed Make Brown Butter–Sage Pasta (No. 46), using 2 teaspoons poppy seeds instead of sage. Use only 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Toss with 1/2 cup chopped parsley.

48. Red Bell Pepper Cook 4 chopped red bell peppers and 1 teaspoon each chopped garlic and thyme in 3 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat, covered, until tender. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to the skillet over medium heat and stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice; simmer until thickened. Add cooked tagliatelle and toss. Season with salt and top with sour cream.

49. Caprese Toss 3 cups halved grape tomatoes, 1 pound diced fresh mozzarella and 1/4 cup olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Let sit 30 minutes. Add cooked rigatoni and toss. Stir in 1/2 cup each chopped basil and grated Parmesan.

50. Broiled Tomato-Garlic Toss 2 pounds whole tomatoes and 6 unpeeled garlic cloves with 2 tablespoons olive oil on a baking sheet; season with salt. Broil, turning occasionally, until the tomatoes blister, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly. Peel the garlic and chop along with the tomatoes. Transfer to a blender and puree with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and red pepper flakes; stir in 1 cup torn basil. Transfer to a bowl, add cooked penne and toss. Season with salt. Top with shaved ricotta salata.

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