Fast Pasta

Pasta with Guanciale, Radicchio and Ricotta

From toasted spaghetti with clams to linguine with snow peas, cucumber, and peanut sauce, here are some terrific fast pasta recipes.

01 of 18

Pasta Shells with Peas and Ham

Pasta Shells with Peas and Ham
© Ngoc Minh Ngo

Country ham—rubbed with salt and sugar, smoked for weeks, then hung to cure for at least six months—is quintessentially Southern. Because it's so salty, it's ideal as an accent in dishes like this homey pasta.

02 of 18

Cavatelli with Roasted Broccoli Rabe & Harissa

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Broccoli rabe rarely makes it into the oven; most cooks sauté or braise it instead. But roasting brings out its sweetness even more. Michael Natkin uses the smart technique for a fast pasta with cavatelli, smoked paprika and the Tunisian chile paste harissa.

03 of 18

Cheese Tortellini with Walnut Pesto

Cheese Tortellini with Walnut Pesto
Christina Holmes

Here's one of the quickest pesto sauces you'll come across. It's a perfect match for cheese tortellini, but you can use other tortellini such as mushroom or meat instead. The pesto is also great with just about any plain pasta.

04 of 18

Farfalle a la Vodka

Farfalle a la Vodka

This is a Zimmern family favorite, a great recipe for a midweek dinner. The amped-up tomato sauce gets a kick from the vodka and a rich, smoky flavor from the bacon. The kids will love it, and yes, the alcohol boils off. We sometimes take this a step further and put out a grater and three or four hard cheeses for folks to choose either a pecorino, an aged goat Gouda, a Parm or other salty, aged piece of magic for their pasta.

05 of 18

Fusilli with Summer Tomato Sauce

Fusilli with Summer Tomato Sauce

For this light, uncooked sauce, you must have perfectly ripe tomatoes. Be sure they're at room temperature, too, not cold. In fact, tomatoes shouldn't be refrigerated at all; chilling permanently reduces their flavor.

06 of 18

Linguine with Onion, Bacon, and Parmesan

Linguine with Onion, Bacon, and Parmesan

The browned onions lend a slight sweetness to this dish. If you prefer not to have that caramelized flavor, just soften the onions for five minutes without browning them, or try the variation below using leeks.

07 of 18

Cavatappi with Chorizo and Black Beans

Cavatappi with Chorizo and Black Beans

The full, earthy Tex-Mex flavors of chorizo, black beans and chili blend perfectly, if somewhat unexpectedly, with corkscrew-shaped macaroni.

08 of 18

Spaghetti with Parsley Almond Pesto

Spaghetti with Parsley Almond Pesto

Parsley, rather than the traditional basil, makes this pesto a year-round staple. Because the taste of almonds is more delicate than that of the usual pine nuts, we have chopped rather than ground them. Their flavor really comes through when you bite in to a nutty chunk.

09 of 18

Penne with Asparagus, Sage and Peas

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For a simple spring dish, chef Cindy Pawlcyn folds penne with asparagus and sweet English peas, then adds a little cream for richness.

10 of 18

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, Bacon, and Bread Crumbs

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, Bacon, and Bread Crumbs

For a pleasant change of pace, we toss crisp, golden bread crumbs with the pasta instead of the usual grated cheese. If you don't have orecchiette, replace them with shells, bow ties, rotelle, or fusilli.

11 of 18

Pasta Shells with Shrimp and Garlicky Bread Crumbs

Pasta Shells with Shrimp and Garlicky Bread Crumbs

Parmesan and a lemon anchovy dressing coat shells, shrimp, and curly endive for a pasta salad that's second cousin to a shrimp Caesar. Instead of big croutons, sautéed bread crumbs make a crisp topping.

12 of 18

Orecchiette with Sausage and Chicory

Orecchiette with Sausage and Chicory
© Lucy Schaeffer

At Alto, Michael White uses dandelion greens to give his slightly spicy sausage pasta a bitter edge, but chicory or escarole makes a great stand-in.

13 of 18

Pasta Bolognese

Pasta Bolognese

We find this sauce, which is traditionally simmered for a long time, tastes just as good when cooked for less than half an hour. Now you won't have to consign Bolognese sauce to the lazy Sunday afternoon of cooking that never comes.

14 of 18

Spaghetti with Anchovy Carbonara

Spaghetti with Anchovy Carbonara
© TINA RUPP

Chris Cosentino adds briny flavor to his pasta with cured tuna heart. He shaves it on right before serving. This recipe calls for anchovies, rather than the tuna heart Cosentino uses. Egg yolks form a silky sauce.

15 of 18

Ziti with Portobello Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, and Goat Cheese

Ziti with Portobello Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, and Goat Cheese
© HANNAH QUEEN

Meaty mushrooms are enhanced by sweet caramelized onions and just enough tangy melted goat cheese in this delicious year-round pasta.

16 of 18

Summery Fettuccine Alfredo

Summery Fettuccine Alfredo

This extra-light Alfredo sauce for pasta gets its silkiness from fresh ricotta and grated pecorino cheese.

17 of 18

Orecchiette with Broccoli and Tomatoes

Orecchiette with Broccoli and Tomatoes

Balsamic vinegar adds a hint of sweetness to this savory sauce. If the slight sweet-and-sour effect isn't to your taste, either omit the vinegar completely or use wine vinegar instead. The effect will be different, but no less delicious.

18 of 18

Pasta with Guanciale, Radicchio and Ricotta

Pasta with Guanciale, Radicchio and Ricotta

To make this rich pasta, chef Nancy Silverton sautés guanciale (cured pork jowl) and then cooks the radicchio and red onions in the rendered fat. She likes to use a little-known pasta called calamarata—which looks like thick squid rings—to catch the sauce, but any wide, tubular pasta is great.

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