Is there anything better than coming home from a long day and sitting down to a bowl of comforting pasta? Or knowing you need to feed the family quickly and you can throw together something quickly that they’ll all like? We don’t think so.
These 21 pasta dishes come together in 30 minutes or less, contain lots of fresh ingredients, and usually allow you to change out the pasta so you can use whichever dried pasta you happen to have in the pantry.
If you want to save an extra couple of minutes, consider ditching the cooking directions on the back of the pasta box and starting your pasta in cold water. The method can cut the time to cook the pasta down by half, and it saves water, too!
Brown Butter Cacio e Pepe
A small extra step of browning butter will give your next cacio e pepe an extra layer of depth to offset the sharpness of the fruity cracked peppercorns and pungent Pecorino Romano.
If you have 20 minutes, you can make this pasta dish with cavatappi—fancy elbow macaroni—that holds onto all the creamy cheese sauce. While the pasta cooks, make the sauce with butter, garlic, heavy cream, Parmesan, and lemon juice. Adding peas is optional, but doing so helps you get some veggies in if you’re not serving a green salad.
No-Cook Tomato Basil Pasta
You do in fact have to cook the pasta for this recipe. It’s the sauce—made with fresh tomatoes, basil, Parmesan, olive oil, and a few other pantry staples—that’s no cook. The fresh sauce bursting with flavor heats up when it hits the just-cooked pasta.
Warm Caprese Pasta
The combination of mozzarella, tomato, and basil—served together as caprese salad—is magical. Those there simple ingredients all work well mixed with warm bow-tie pasta, too. If you want to make this a little heartier, add some cooked pancetta or bacon.
This indulgent recipe takes just 30 minutes. Fry up pancetta or bacon in a skillet, then create the silky carbonara sauce of Parmesan and beaten eggs tossed with the hot pasta and a little fat from the pork. It’s a real treat.
Creamy Ziti Florentine
Spinach, green onions, herbs, lemon, and ricotta cheese combine to make a creamy sauce for ziti. It’s a quick and easy stovetop dinner that comes together in 20 minutes, and it’s so good you’ll eat it all up in just minutes, too.
Easy Pasta with Winter Greens
This vibrant sauce is made with fresh Swiss chard, pasta water, olive oil, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. It’s simple and goes with the pasta of your choice. Substitute kale, spinach, or collard greens for the Swiss chard if you’d like.
Skillet Cacio e Pepe Tortellini With Wilted Greens
The fresh or frozen cheese tortellini cooks right in the same pan you’ll later add the sauce ingredients to, saving the time you’d normally take it boil the pasta (and saving you one more to wash). The sauce is the same as a traditional cacio e pepe, just salty Pecorino Romano cheese and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. A few handfuls of spinach finish the dish.
Creamy Miso Mushroom Pasta
Just 8 ingredients and come together in 30 minutes to make this creamy pasta with white miso, Parmesan, and mushrooms. It uses a whole pound of spaghetti so you get an umami-filled pasta dinner for four.
Penne alla Vodka
In the time that it takes to cook the penne, you can make this rich, creamy vodka sauce that’s full of garlic, crushed tomatoes, cream, Pecorino, and of course the vodka of your choice, as long as it’s not flavored. Add a side of garlic bread, and oh yum!
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
This pasta is simple and delicious, but using good ingredients is a must. Only quality extra virgin olive, fresh garlic, real Parmesan, and red pepper flakes that haven’t been sitting in your pantry too long will do. Boil the pasta. When that’s done, it takes just a couple of minutes to make the tasty sauce with the oil, garlic, Parm, and pepper flakes.
Switch up pasta carbonara by using chicken along with pork like bacon or pancetta. The chicken is cooked in the garlic-infused drippings, the simple sauce has eggs and Parmesan, and it still comes together in just 30 minutes. The recipe is scaled for 2 servings, but double it and it’s dinner for 4.
Fresh Corn Pasta
You can make this with corn any time of the year but when fresh corn is in season, you’ll be really happy to have this recipe on hand. It’s kind of like a mash-up between creamed corn and mac and cheese, and it’s so good. Add a salad and it’s a meal or serve it as a side dish.
Pasta with Tuna and Arugula
Break out the canned tuna in olive oil and add it to olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes for this simple pasta dish with wilted arugula. It works really well with fettuccine, spaghetti, or linguine.
Buttery Tomato Pasta
The ridges of corkscrew pasta perfectly capture tomato sauce made with canned tomatoes and butter rather than olive oil. There’s a good chance you have the ingredients you need in your pantry already, and while the corkscrew pasta works great, you can use whatever pasta you have on hand.
Angel Hair Pasta With Garlic, Herbs, and Parmesan
This simple angel hair pasta is a side dish, but if you have leftover rotisserie chicken in the fridge and add it in, you have a meal. Start the water boiling for the pasta and then sauté garlic, red pepper flakes, and herbs in olive oil. After the pasta cooks, drizzle it with the infused oil and add the Parmesan.
Mom’s Pasta Primavera
Sautéed onions, carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, and eggplant and a quickly made flavorful marinara sauce top pasta. Far from a typical primavera, it’s a Mediterranean delight that you can top with or without Parmesan.
Angel Hair Pasta with Quick Cherry Tomato Sauce
The Italians can turn tomatoes, olive oil, fresh herbs, cheese, and pasta into something that’s even better than the sum of its parts, and this dish is just that. Angel hair pasta, capellini, or capelli d’Angelo is the base for a sauce that’s full of cherry tomatoes, and it’s simply delicious.
Sautéed Swiss Chard Ribs with Cream and Pasta
Did you know you can eat the ribs from Swiss chard? You can, and this creamy pasta dish (use your favorite pasta) sautés them up in butter then mixes it all up with heavy creamy to create a sauce for your quick, weeknight pasta dish.
Lemony Sardine Pasta
If you love lemon, this pasta is for you. Briny sardines, caramelized lemons, olives, and crispy, crunchy garlic and breadcrumbs create the unusual but delicious pasta sauce you didn’t know you wanted. Spaghetti works great, but use whatever pasta you want.
Pasta Pomodoro with Shrimp
Pasta pomodoro is a simple pasta with olive oil, fresh tomatoes, and basil. This dish takes the simple classic and adds fast cooking peeled and deveined shrimp, frozen or fresh. It’s quick and delicious.