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5 EASY (Delicious!) Pasta Recipes for Weeknight Dinners

When it comes to quick, easy and comforting weeknight dinners, pasta always comes to the rescue.


Versatile, flavorful, and easy to prepare, weeknight pasta dishes are a go-to choice for busy households.


Whether you're a pasta lover or simply seeking inspiration for quick meals, IMPASTIAMO has curated ten delectable pasta recipes that are sure to become family favorites. From classic Italian flavors to innovative twists, these dishes will leave you craving more. Let's dive into the world of pasta and uncover these mouthwatering weeknight dinner options!


pastina - easy weeknight dinners
photo: COURTNEY KASSEL

1. Easy, Cheesy Pastina

For a seriously comforting and deliciously nostalgic easy weeknight dinner, whip up an easy bowl of pastina! In less than 30 minutes, you'll have the perfect weeknight dinner ready to be devoured.


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pastina pasta

  • 2 cups water or chicken broth

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

  • Salt and black pepper to taste

  • Fresh parsley or basil leaves for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Boil the Pastina: In a small saucepan, bring the water or chicken broth to a boil. Add the pastina pasta and cook according to the package instructions or until the pasta is tender.

  2. Drain the Pastina: Once the pastina is cooked, drain any excess water if necessary. If using chicken broth, you can leave a little liquid to enhance the flavor.

  3. Add Butter and Parmesan: Return the cooked pastina to the saucepan and add the unsalted butter. Stir until the butter is melted and coats the pasta evenly.

  4. Season and Serve: Sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese over the pastina and mix well. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

  5. Garnish and Enjoy: Transfer the easy pastina to serving bowls. Garnish with fresh parsley or basil leaves if desired.

This quick and simple pastina recipe is perfect for busy days or when you need a comforting bowl of pasta in a hurry. The buttery and cheesy flavors combine beautifully with the tiny pastina pasta to create a delightful and satisfying meal. Serve it as a side dish or enjoy it as a light main course for a taste of comfort that's sure to please the whole family.




gnocchi - easy weeknight dinners

2. Handmade Gnocchi

For a taste of Italy in your own kitchen, try your hand at making homemade gnocchi! These easy, pillowy potato dumplings are surprisingly simple to prepare and deliver a burst of flavor in every bite.


Ingredients:

  • 2 large russet potatoes (about 1 pound each)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • Fresh sage leaves

  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Cook the Potatoes: Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Pierce the potatoes with a fork a few times and bake them on a baking sheet for about 1 hour or until they are tender when pierced with a fork. Alternatively, you can boil the potatoes until tender, but baking helps to keep them drier.

  2. Prepare the Gnocchi Dough: Once the potatoes are cooked and cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and pass the flesh through a potato ricer or mash them until smooth. Let the mashed potatoes cool completely. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled mashed potatoes, beaten egg, salt, and flour. Mix gently until a dough forms.

  3. Knead the Dough: Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it gently until smooth. Be careful not to over-knead, as it can make the gnocchi dense.

  4. Shape the Gnocchi: Divide the dough into smaller portions. Roll each portion into a long, thin rope, about 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut the ropes into 3/4-inch pieces. To give the gnocchi their classic shape, you can press each piece gently with a fork or use a gnocchi board to make ridges.

  5. Cook the Gnocchi: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi in batches and cook them until they float to the surface, which usually takes about 2-3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked gnocchi to a plate.

  6. Make the Sage Butter Sauce: In a separate skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the fresh sage leaves and let them cook until they become crispy and the butter turns a golden brown color.

  7. Combine and Serve: Add the cooked gnocchi to the skillet with the sage butter sauce. Toss everything gently to coat the gnocchi evenly. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

  8. Serve: Transfer the handmade potato gnocchi to serving plates. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and garnish with extra sage leaves if desired.

These handmade potato gnocchi with sage butter sauce are a labor of love that's well worth the effort. The result is tender, pillowy gnocchi with a delightful buttery and herby sauce. Serve them as a main dish or as a delightful side to accompany your favorite Italian meal. Buon appetito!


(Here's another one of our favorite gnocchi recipes and here's our beloved gnocchi board!)




italian sausage, peppers and onions - easy weeknight dinners
photo: SALT & LAVENDER

3. Italian Sausage, Peppers and Onions

Picture this: A sizzling skillet on the stove, filling the air with the irresistible aroma of Italian goodness. In just about 40 minutes, you'll be treated to a culinary masterpiece loved by all—say hello to the classic Italian family favorite!


This easy weeknight dinner embodies the heart and soul of Italian cuisine, cherished in homes across generations with delightful tweaks and personal touches to suit each family's tastes.


Ingredients:

  • 4 Italian sausage links (sweet or spicy, based on preference)

  • 2 bell peppers (red, green, or a mix), sliced

  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

  • Salt and black pepper to taste

  • Crusty Italian rolls or cooked pasta, for serving

  • Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Cook the Italian Sausage: In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the Italian sausage links. Cook them until they are browned on all sides and cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer the sausages to a plate and set aside.

  2. Sauté Peppers and Onions: In the same skillet, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the sliced bell peppers and onions to the pan. Sauté them until they are softened and slightly caramelized, about 8-10 minutes.

  3. Add Garlic and Seasonings: Stir in the minced garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, salt, and black pepper. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until the garlic becomes fragrant.

  4. Combine Sausage and Vegetables: Slice the cooked Italian sausages into bite-sized pieces. Return them to the skillet with the peppers and onions. Toss everything together to combine, allowing the flavors to meld.

  5. Serve: Serve the Italian Sausage, Peppers, and Onions on crusty Italian rolls as a hearty sandwich or alongside cooked pasta for a satisfying main course. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley for a burst of color and added freshness.

This easy and flavorful Italian Sausage, Peppers, and Onions dish brings the essence of Italy to your table. The tender sausages, sweet peppers, and savory onions create a harmonious combination that's perfect for a comforting and delicious meal.




stuffed shells - easy weeknight dinners
photo: chef Lidia Bastianich.

4. Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Impress your family with Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells – a delightful blend of ricotta cheese, spinach, garlic, and nutmeg, tucked inside jumbo pasta shells. Baked to perfection with marinara sauce and mozzarella, this dish is comfort food at its finest.


Ingredients:

  • 18-20 jumbo pasta shells

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese

  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • Salt and black pepper to taste

  • 2 cups marinara sauce

  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Cook the Pasta Shells: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the jumbo pasta shells according to the package instructions until they are al dente. Drain and set aside.

  2. Prepare the Filling: In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, thawed and drained spinach, half of the shredded mozzarella cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, beaten egg, dried basil, dried oregano, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Mix well until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

  3. Stuff the Shells: Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Take each cooked pasta shell and spoon a generous amount of the spinach and ricotta filling into it. Arrange the stuffed shells in the baking dish.

  4. Add the Sauce: Pour the remaining marinara sauce over the stuffed shells, covering them evenly. Sprinkle the remaining shredded mozzarella cheese over the top.

  5. Bake: Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly, with a golden brown color.

  6. Serve: Garnish with fresh basil leaves if desired. Serve the Easy Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells hot and enjoy the delicious combination of tender pasta shells filled with a creamy and flavorful spinach and ricotta mixture.

These Easy Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells are a delightful and satisfying Italian-inspired dish that requires minimal effort. The combination of creamy ricotta, nutritious spinach, and gooey cheese creates a mouthwatering filling that's perfect for a comforting weeknight dinner or a special occasion. This dish is sure to impress your family and friends with its flavorful simplicity.




cacio e pepe - easy weeknight dinners

Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e pepe is basically grown-up white cheddar mac and cheese, which is probably why it’s our go-to comfort food for quick weeknight dinners and dinner parties alike.


Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces spaghetti or bucatini pasta

  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

  • Salt (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Cook the Pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti or bucatini pasta and cook according to the package instructions until it is al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water before draining the pasta.

  2. Prepare the Cheese and Pepper Mixture: In a separate bowl, mix the grated Pecorino Romano cheese and coarsely ground black pepper together.

  3. Combine Pasta and Cheese Mixture: Once the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving a cup of pasta water. Return the hot, drained pasta to the pot. Immediately add the cheese and pepper mixture to the pasta, tossing it vigorously to create a creamy sauce. If the sauce appears too thick, gradually add some of the reserved pasta water until you achieve the desired consistency.

  4. Adjust Seasoning: Taste the Cacio e Pepe and adjust the seasoning with salt if necessary. Pecorino Romano cheese is naturally salty, so you may not need additional salt.

  5. Optional: Add Butter (Mantecatura): For an extra luxurious touch, you can add unsalted butter to the pasta and toss it until the butter melts and incorporates into the sauce.

  6. Serve: Transfer the Easy Cacio e Pepe to serving plates. Sprinkle some additional black pepper and grated Pecorino Romano cheese on top for an extra burst of flavor.

This Easy Cacio e Pepe recipe is a classic Italian dish that celebrates the simplicity of quality ingredients. With just a few basic pantry staples, you can create a creamy and comforting pasta dish that's rich in flavor and irresistibly delicious. The combination of Pecorino Romano cheese and coarsely ground black pepper creates a delightful sauce that coats each strand of pasta, making it a quick and satisfying meal for any day of the week.

 

With these delicious pasta recipes, weeknight dinners are about to get a whole lot easier. From classic Italian flavors to global inspirations, these dishes offer a diverse range of tastes and textures to please every palate.


At IMPASTIAMO, we celebrate the joy of cooking and invite you to explore the world of pasta in your own kitchen. So, grab your apron, gather your ingredients, and let the pasta-making magic begin!


Want to make weeknight dinners a whole lot easier? Join us for one of our online or in-person cooking classes to grow your culinary toolkit and learn how to make more of your meals at home!





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Whether it's a birthday celebration, a work retreat, or a date night, let us set up a private cooking class for you with any chef around the world. 

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