Few people don’t like pasta. It’s delicious, budget-friendly, and versatile – and if you’re looking for a speedy weeknight supper, it’s an obvious choice.
So, if you’re looking for some quick weeknight pasta recipes that go beyond spag bol or pesto pasta, we’ve got you covered. From one-pot wonders to plant-based pasta and rich ragù, here are nine quick, easy, and delicious pasta recipes to inspire you.
1. Pasta e fagioli
One quick and easy pasta dish that uses lots of store cupboard staples is the Italian classic, pasta e fagioli – pasta with beans.
While the idea of pasta and beans might not sound especially exciting, this one-pot recipe is far more flavoursome than it sounds. Plus, it’s cheap, nutritious, and seriously comforting, which makes it the perfect speedy weeknight dinner.
The trick to transforming this recipe from a simple dish to one packed with deep, savoury flavours is the soffritto – a mix of diced onion, carrots, celery, and garlic that’s slowly cooked in olive oil until it softens and becomes a golden colour. It lends a wonderful richness to the dish, and when you add bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme, everything will become even more aromatic.
Once you add the stock, tomato paste, and beans (borlotti or cannellini work best), the texture will become lovely and creamy – especially if you remove some of the liquid and blend before adding back into the pot. Then, add some short, small pasta like ditali, orecchiette, or conchiglie – and if you have greens in the house (like kale or spinach), you can add them in too. Serve with olive oil, black pepper, and enjoy!
To make pasta e fagioli, try this recipe from The Clever Meal.
2. Stovetop macaroni cheese
Macaroni cheese is one of the most popular comfort foods around. The combination of chewy pasta, creamy sauce, and gooey cheese is warming, delicious, and indulgent. When it’s baked in the oven, as it traditionally is, the top also becomes gorgeously crispy.
If you’re craving the flavours of mac and cheese but want to make a quick weeknight version, why not make a stovetop macaroni cheese?
Not only does cooking macaroni cheese on the stove reduce energy usage, but it also means you can tuck into a piping hot bowl in just 20 minutes.
To make sure this dish is as tasty as the oven-baked classic, it’s important to create a sauce that’s thick, creamy, and also packed with flavour. Garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and pepper go a long way!
First, cook the pasta; macaroni is traditionally used, but you can use any small pasta like penne, rigatoni, conchiglie, or farfalle. Then, make your sauce, and once it’s thickened, add the cheese. Mozzarella gives it a gooey texture, while cheddar adds taste.
Finally, add the pasta to the sauce and top with parsley for extra colour and flavour. For extra vitamins and protein you can also add peas to the pasta as it’s cooking.
To make easy stovetop macaroni cheese, try this recipe by Dinner at the Zoo.
3. Creamy lemon cacio e pepe with pancetta
One of the simplest yet tastiest pasta dishes around is cacio e pepe – a traditional Italian dish made from just pasta, cheese, and black pepper. However, there are many ways to elevate this classic meal – adding ingredients like zingy lemon, salty pancetta, creamy mascarpone, and sweet green peas are some of the best. And, even better, it still only takes 15 minutes!
This dish is simple and deserves good quality ingredients – it’s worth forking out a bit extra for higher-quality pasta if you can afford to. This tends to be paler than the quick-dried, yellow-hued pasta, which has a more bland taste and harder texture. Long, sturdy pasta – like bucatini, fettucini, thick spaghetti, or tagliatelle – is best for this dish.
For the sauce, adding egg yolk and mascarpone cheese will take the richness to the next level, and lemon zest and juice add a lovely fresh twist. The black pepper gives the sauce an earthy heat, and the crispy fried pancetta adds bite. Once the pasta is cooked, add the sauce, pancetta, and cooked peas, top with grated parmesan, and serve immediately!
To make this creamy lemon cacio e pepe with pancetta, try this recipe from Family Style Food.
4. One pot caramelised tomato caprese pasta
If you’re a fan of creamy tomato and basil dishes, you’ll likely enjoy making this next recipe. Not only is it cooked in one pot, which saves on washing up – it’s also entirely plant-based. Though, given how indulgently creamy it tastes, you’d never guess!
Baby tomatoes are sautéed with garlic and olive oil until they burst, infusing the dish with their sweet juices, before being removed from the pan. Then, you cook the pasta in a wonderfully flavoursome broth containing veggie stock, almond milk (or another non-dairy alternative), nutritional yeast, and coconut milk.
The coconut milk may sound odd, but the coconut flavour won’t come through. Instead, the creaminess of the milk perfectly blends with the cheesy, nutty nutritional yeast and savoury stock to make a gorgeously silky sauce.
Once the pasta is cooked, you can add the tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic back into the pan before stirring vigorously so the pasta soaks up the delicious fresh flavours. Then, if you like, add a generous handful of freshly chopped basil and a scattering of vegan parmesan. This delicious dish is ready in under 25 minutes – and once you’ve made it, you’ll most likely want to make it again!
To make one-pot caramelised tomato caprese pasta, try this recipe from Rabbit and Wolves.
5. Pasta alla Norma
Sicily is known for its simple yet mouthwatering cuisine, and pasta alla Norma is arguably this unique Italian island’s best-loved dish.
Originating in Catania, Sicily’s second largest city, it’s believed to have been named after Vincenzo Bellini’s beloved opera ‘Norma’ due to its popularity. And, while it’s packed with gorgeous flavours, it only takes a little over half an hour to prep and cook.
The heart of this dish is a rich tomato sauce packed with aubergine, which, when fried, becomes golden and takes on a luscious, velvety texture. You can slice or dice the aubergine depending on how big you want the chunks to be, and separately sauté some garlic in olive oil before adding tinned tomatoes and cooking until thick.
Then, cook your pasta. You can use whatever pasta shape you like – although traditionally boccole or rigatoni are used, as their deep ridges and holes are perfect for stowing thick morsels of sauce and chunks of aubergine.
Once the pasta is cooked, mix with the tomato sauce and aubergine, and top with basil. If you like, you can also add crispy capers, chilli flakes, and cheese like ricotta or parmesan.
To make pasta alla Norma, try this recipe from Great Italian Chefs.
6. Tuna pasta with olive oil and garlic
Most of us have those days when we get back home hungry, tired, and ready to flop, only to find nothing in the fridge. On one of those evenings, this dish is ideal because not only is it quick to knock up, but the ingredients are almost exclusively store cupboard staples. So, if your fridge is empty, no problem!
All you need for this dish is pasta (spaghetti, linguine, farfalle, or penne work best), olive oil, garlic, chilli flakes, and tinned tuna.
This is an amped-up version of the Italian classic aglio e olio (spaghetti with garlic and olive oil), yet the addition of tuna provides a welcome dose of omega-3 fatty acids – as well as its distinctive flaky, meaty texture.
This recipe takes less than 25 minutes to whip up, and if you have any other ingredients in the house, there are lots of ways you can make this dish even tastier (and healthier). Sun-dried tomatoes add a deliciously tangy twist, and a scattering of fresh parsley brings extra freshness. If you have a can of white beans in the cupboard, why not add them too for extra protein and fibre?
To make this quick tuna, olive oil, and garlic pasta dish, try Family Style Food’s recipe here.
7. Miso and corn pasta
If you’re looking to inject some sunshine into your life, look no further than this next recipe.
Not only does this miso and corn pasta dish take just 10 minutes to prepare and 20 to cook, but it’s bursting with flavours – from charred corn to umami miso and zingy tomato. Plus, the vibrant red, yellow, and green colours won’t fail to brighten up a dark, damp evening.
This dish is also vegan, so it’s a great place to start if you’re looking to cut down on meat and dairy.
To get the most out of the veg, it’s best to cook it on a griddle pan. Brush the courgette slices and tomatoes with olive oil and, once charred, flip them. If you’re using corn on the cob, as the recipe suggests, cook that on the griddle pan as well – though you can always use canned sweetcorn if you’d prefer.
As you cook the pasta, slowly fry some garlic in oil and dissolve the miso paste in two tablespoons of hot pasta water. Then, add the miso paste, nutritional yeast, and a dash of lemon juice into the garlic and oil mix until you get a glossy emulsion. Combine this with your pasta and veg and toss until the pasta is coated and shiny. Top with chilli flakes, toasted pine nuts, and fresh basil.
To make this miso and corn pasta dish, try this recipe by Lazy Cat Kitchen.
8. Creamy mushroom spaghetti
If you love mushrooms, you’ll definitely want to have a go at making this next dish.
Mushrooms are a low-calorie source of fibre, protein, and antioxidants, and they also contain vitamin D and selenium – and they go perfectly with creamy, velvety pasta dishes too. Any type of pasta works for this recipe, but long shapes like spaghetti, fettuccine, or tagliatelle are best.
You can use many types of mushrooms in this dish – and while this particular recipe uses button mushrooms, oyster, cremini, shiitake, and portobello all work well too.
Mushrooms shrink when cooked, so the trick to this tasty dish is to cook twice as much as you think you need. Cook the mushrooms in garlic butter until they’re golden brown, then deglaze the pan with white wine.
Next, whip up an alfredo sauce with stock, cream, parmesan, and salt and pepper, and mix in your cooked pasta until you have a slippery tangle of spaghetti that’s smothered in a rich, creamy sauce.
Mushroom spaghetti is a quick yet luxurious dish that’ll please just about anyone (unless they don’t like mushrooms, of course!). To make it vegan, just use vegan butter, oat or soya cream, and a vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast.
To make creamy mushroom pasta, try this recipe from RecipeTin Eats.
9. Pappardelle with red wine and beef ragù
If you’re craving a rich, meaty dish – something to warm you up on a cold winter’s day – then ragù is ideal.
There are many different versions of ragù. In Northern Italy, recipes usually include minced, chopped, or ground meat, whereas, in the south, large chunks of beef or pork are often used, as well as local sausages.
Both versions tend to be cooked for a long time – but this isn’t absolutely necessary. As long as you’re using good-quality ingredients, you can make a seriously flavoursome version in just 30 minutes.
Because ragù is a hearty, thick sauce, it goes best with substantial pasta shapes – either sturdy, tubular shapes like rigatoni or penne, or wide, flat, and long pasta like pappardelle.
This delicious dish uses pappardelle, and the rich sauce is made with red wine, minced beef, and turkey. Dried porcini mushrooms are also added, which bring a lovely umami flavour.
A base of chopped pancetta, celery, carrot, onion, and thyme adds extra depth, and once you’ve added your meat and tomatoes, you only need to cook it for around 12 minutes until the sauce is suitably thick.
To make pappardelle with red wine and beef ragù, try this recipe from Food and Wine.
Pasta is the world’s favourite food for a reason. It’s cheap, quick, and filling, with a satisfyingly chewy texture and a pleasing mild taste. And, as this article hopefully shows, it’s also incredibly versatile. While some pasta recipes, like lasagne, can be a labour of love, there are many speedy recipes you can knock up in under half an hour – and these are just nine of them!
Forget buying bland, overpriced jars of sauce or turning to plain pesto pasta on a busy weeknight. From rich and meaty ragù recipes to fresh-tasting veggie and vegan delights – and many dishes you can whip up from store cupboard staples – these recipes show how delicious (and diverse) a quick pasta dish can be.
If you’re a big pasta fan and want to make your own from scratch, check out our article; How to make fresh homemade pasta. For more culinary inspiration, why not visit the food and drink section of our website? Or, check out what food and drink events we have coming up on Rest Less Events.
Is pasta your go-to for a busy weeknight? Do you have any of your own quick pasta recipes you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about your culinary adventures in the comments below.