15 Pasta Recipes So Simple You'll Think You Ordered In

Updated 11/09/18

When dining at an Italian restaurant—whether in Rome or in Brooklyn—it may be tempting to consider your favorite pasta dishes beyond your cooking abilities. That's where you're wrong. In fact, pasta can be one of the simplest meals to make, and some might even call it a hero of weeknight cooking.

The basics are simple enough. Boil a pot of water, sprinkle in some salt, cook the noodles, drain, and serve topped in a sauce that suits your mood for the evening. Yes, there are add-ins like vegetables and proteins to consider and making a sauce from scratch may sound intimidating, but the process is easy enough. Plus, a homemade sauce will likely leave your dish containing less sodium and sugar than when you cook with the canned variety for a healthy bonus.

If you're game to prepare the Italian classic on your own, start small with a few ridiculously simple pasta recipes. In the mood for something light and fresh? You can whip up a zucchini parmesan creation in less than a half hour. Looking for something a bit more traditional? Serve up baked penne all vodka in an hour flat (including baking time). Although the flavors, textures, and aromas are far from simple, the work in the kitchen is exactly that. Try your hand at these 15 simple recipes when you want something warm and comforting on the table in a flash.

 

Baked Penne Alla Vodka

Baked Penne Alla Vodka
The Modern Proper

For a seriously impressive-looking dish that doesn't actually require much effort, prepare this baked penne alla vodka. First, you'll cook sausage, onion, garlic, pancetta, or prosciutto on the stove. Then you'll add in a bit of vodka and tomatoes to the mix along with heavy cream and parmesan after the alcohol has burned off. Toss in some kale and dried penne pasta before transferring it all into a lined baking dish. With extra mozzarella cheese to top, you'll be left with a delicious, hearty, Italian meal that's baked to perfection.

 

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Shrimp Pasta with Arugula Pesto

Shrimp Pasta with Arugula Pesto
Root + Revel

This gluten-free shrimp pasta with arugula pesto tastes deluxe but is actually incredibly easy to make. Think of it as a healthier version of your favorite shrimp scampi. Made with seafood, garlic, olive oil, and a lemon-white wine sauce, it's the perfect simple weeknight meal.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara
Foodie Crush

With this recipe, you're just four ingredients away from a satisfying, homemade Italian meal. You'll need spaghetti, bacon, eggs, and pecorino romano to get dinner on the table in no time at all. While the pasta is cooking, prepare bacon in a pot on the stove and separate the eggs so you can whip up the egg whites with the pecorino romano. You'll combine everything together and top each serving with an egg yolk (don't worry, it will cook when you stir it into the piping hot pasta).

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Buttery Mushroom and Clam Pasta

Buttery Mushroom and Clam Pasta
Half Baked Harvest

This buttery seafood dish is ready to eat in just 30 minutes flat. The restaurant quality meal features bucatini pasta tossed with mushrooms, fresh clams, sweet corn, and herbs. It's simple enough to pull together on a weeknight but delicious enough to cook on the weekend to impress someone special.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Zucchini Parmesan Pasta

Zucchini Parmesan Pasta
Half Baked Harvest

A veggie-packed pasta, this dish is easy to make and relatively healthy to boot. It calls for zucchini and yellow summer squash, the pasta of your liking, and seasonings like fresh thyme, basil, and grated parmesan or manchego cheese. The veggies, butter, and oil make a quick sauce-like texture to coat the pasta beautifully.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Bacon Broccoli Pasta

Bacon Broccoli Pasta
How Sweet Eats

Easy weeknight dinners don't get any simpler than this bacon broccoli pasta. While pasta cooks in a pot, fry up bacon crumbles and broccoli on the stove with garlic, crushed red pepper, and parmesan. Toss it all together and dinner is served.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Tomato Basil One-Pot Pasta

Tomato Basil One Pot Pasta
Salt & Wind

There may not be a simpler pasta recipe than this tomato basil one-pot pasta. To make the dish, you merely have to combine all of the ingredients together in one pot on top of the stove and stir. It calls for ingredients like olive oil, basil, red onion, cherry tomatoes, garlic, bell peppers, white wine, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for a flavorful dish.

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
Creme de la Crumb

No compilation of simple pasta recipes would be complete with a deluxe macaroni and cheese recipe fit for children and adults alike. Oh, and did we mention it's ready in 30 minutes flat? Gather up ingredients like butter, flour, milk, garlic powder, and freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese to get cooking.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta
Minimalist Baker

For a simple vegan and gluten-free pasta, try this sun-dried tomato pesto dish. With six straightforward ingredients, it will quickly end up in your weeknight dinner lineup. All you need is gluten-free pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, basil, garlic, and vegan parmesan cheese. The pesto is quickly made in a food processor or blender while the pasta cooks for a seriously easy dinner.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
Foodie Crush

Fettuccine alfredo is a true classic, and with this recipe, you'll look like a pro making it. The nontraditional recipe can be prepared in an Instant Pot or on the stove and calls for chicken breast, fettuccine, chicken stock, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese. You can also add in extras like sautéed mushrooms, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, or peas.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes (three minutes if using an Instant Pot)

Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Burrata

Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Burrata
Salt & Wind

Known as pasta alla Checca, this Italian masterpiece features an heirloom tomato sauce topped with a hearty dollop of burrata cheese. While homemade sauce sounds tricky, this one is actually quite simple to make and well worth the extra effort. It's a combination of diced tomatoes, tomato juice, oil, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes. Toss the finished sauce with cooked noodles and top with burrata cheese and a bit of olive oil.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Kale Cacio e Pepe

Kale Cacio e Pepe
How Sweet Eats

Classic cacio e pepe gets a healthy twist with this simple pasta recipe. It calls for whole wheat spaghetti, butter, black pepper, kale, parmesan cheese, and pecorino cheese. Let the pasta cook in a pot while you toast black pepper with butter and kale. Toss it all together with both kinds of cheese until the pasta is coated in the sauce. Serve it up with extra parmesan and a bit of pepper.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

One Pot Pasta with Sausage and Zucchini

One Pot Pasta with Sausage and Zucchini
Spoon Fork Bacon

An easy, no-fuss meal, this one-pot sausage and zucchini pasta was made for busy weeknights. You'll need olive oil, Italian sausage, onion, zucchini, garlic, thyme, chicken stock, bucatini pasta, and parmesan. Prep the sausage and vegetables all in one pot before adding in stock and your noodles. That's it. The best part is you'll only have to clean one pot when you're done cooking.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Seafood Pasta

Seafood Pasta
Stuck In the Kitchen

Although a seafood pasta dish might sound intimidating, this recipe is anything but. All you have to do is cook pasta on the stove while your clams cook in a large pot. You'll also need one more burner going to cook prawns and squid in a frypan. Once everything is cooked to perfection, toss the seafood and pasta together with a bit of parsley, black pepper, and olive oil.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes 

Lemon Ricotta Zucchini Pasta

Lemon Ricotta Zucchini Pasta
Sugar Salted

Lemon ricotta zucchini pasta sounds like a dish straight off of the menu of a five-star trattoria, but you can make it at home with ease. With this recipe, you'll effortlessly throw together a creamy sauce with ricotta, spices, and hot pasta water. It all coats perfectly cooked pasta, ready to be topped with a bit of grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

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