Pasta often refers to as main dishes but do you know it also makes fantastic side dishes? And yes, they don’t include just salads. There are hundreds, even thousands of different side dishes made from pasta out there. So why don’t you start learning about them in this article?
Here, I have divided these recipes into different groups based on their similarity so you can have more choices for your dinner meal. If you are short of time, you can aim for those less time-consuming. And on leisure days, more complex ones will be more fun to make.
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Here Are 27 Different Pasta Side Dishes That Can Go With Any Food
As I’ve said above, pasta is often served as a main dish. And although those below are side dishes, you can always change them into main courses by making more of them or adding more ingredients like chicken, beef, pork, etc.
- Strawberry Pasta Salad
- Macaroni Salad
- Caprese Pasta Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Roasted Veggie Orzo
- Avocado Pasta
- Pesto Pasta
- Penne Puttanesca
- Rice And Noodle Pilaf
- Sheet Pan Mac & Cheese
- 5-Cheese Ziti Al Forno
- Baked Tortellini
- Noodle Pudding
- Stuffed Shells
- Creamy Garlic Shells
- Creamy Spinach Orzo
- Pasta Primavera
- Tuscan Tortellini Salad
- Gigi Hadid Pasta
- French Onion Pasta
- Parmesan Orzo
- BLT Pasta Salad
- Taco Pasta
- Fettuccine Chicken Alfredo
- Pasta Carbonara
- Chilli Mac
This is just a simple list. More fantastic information is waiting right below. So, keep scrolling down for more!
10 Vegetarian Side Dishes With Pasta As The Main Ingredient
When it comes to side dishes, vegetables is always the first word popping up in my head. But just salad sounds so simple with this list. Let’s look at these recipes below for more vegetarian recipes.
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Strawberries and pasta? Yes, you heard me right. While this combination sounds out of this world, you can’t judge before trying it.
Ripe strawberries are like a sweet note on a music sheet named “pasta salad.” Just the look of it makes you feel like spring has come and warmed you up. And if only strawberries aren’t enough, feel free to mix other berries in this dish for an extra tanginess.
How can I not mention the classic macaroni salad? Almost every American grows up eating this dish. Standard macaroni salad includes cooked macaroni pasta with diced onions, dills, sweet pickles, and celery.
But who said there’s a limit for this salad? Feel free to add whatever ingredients to your liking, like ham, cheese, beans, peas, or hard-boiled eggs. Besides potato salad, this is a must-have dish for any BBQ party, so make sure you prepare it beforehand.
Nothing represents Italy more than Caprese salad. It even has the Italian flag colors: green from the basil, red from tomatoes, and white from the mozzarella cheese. And now, let’s make it even more Italian with the help of pasta.
For this salad, it’s better to go with medium pasta with curves and crevices like shell ones so they can adhere to the dressing better. This dish goes best with your BBQ party, no matter if it’s beef or chicken.
If you want something more exotic than other regular salads, here comes the Greek version. Crunchy veggies, sweet ripe tomatoes, sour olives, and rich feta cheese; once you try it, you’ll never forget its taste.
Like other pasta salads, it’s best to go with noodles with curves and crevices, so you get more flavor from the dressing.
You don’t need to go to Greece to make this Greek pasta salad. You can see this video to know more:
This is like a leveled-up spring salad with all the colorful vegetables and the savory orzo. My favorite veggie combination is usually mushrooms, bell peppers in all colors, asparagus, zucchini, and tomatoes – all spring ones.
The reason is that these vegetables can still keep their colors after roasting, so your side dishes can remain appetizing. However, since each one has different timing, you should pay close attention to them.
Also, for the last touch, sprinkle some lemon-based dressing to tie everything together.
You’ll be surprised like I did when learning this creamy dish doesn’t need any butter or cream. All you need is ripe avocados with their creamy flesh. And that’s why don’t ever use green ones for this dish, or you’ll get a starchy, raw sauce.
As for the pasta, long, thick ones like fettuccine or pappardelle are the most suitable. However, shell or bowtie type is a fun change once in a while.
When summer comes, my head immediately screams out, “PESTO!”. And that’s how pesto pasta appears on my family meal every summer. Why do I love this dish that much? It’s because it’s simple yet super delicious.
Well, actually, before, pesto wasn’t so easy as you’d need to use a mortar and pestle. But now, with the help of the food processor, things have become way less troublesome for you and me.
Italy is not the only country with noodle dishes. Let’s take a look at a side dish coming from German – Spaetzle! Despite its weird name, spaetzle is basically egg noodles cooked in melted butter. It doesn’t stand out on its own, so Germans often serve spaetzle with gravy dishes or stews.
While spaetzle is an exclusive German dish, you can make it at home without having to travel to its country to buy the necessary ingredients. All-purpose flour is a decent replacement for spaetzle flour. And other components are just eggs, water, or milk.
The key to this dish is the puttanesca sauce. Traditionally made with all low-priced ingredients like garlic, dried chili peppers, capers, and anchovies, it was once treated as a “worthless” recipe. But now, puttanesca has become a priceless dish in Italy.
And while spaghetti is a common choice for this sauce, I tend to use penne more as I can enjoy the dish more without having to roll up pasta every time. Every Italian region has a different version of puttanesca sauce, so feel free to season it to your liking.
To some of you, this dish is as strange as the strawberry pasta salad above. But mixing pasta with the grain is a common sign in the Middle East or Eastern European countries. And this pilaf is one of them. It’s a perfect choice for when you are stuck with no options for your side dish.
Pilaf refers to cooking long-grain rice like basmati in stock or broth with various spices, such as bay leaves and cinnamon. In this recipe, you stir the pasta first, then add the rice afterward. You can enjoy it just like this or add some chicken for extra protein.
Pasta Side Dishes With Cheese? A Fantastic Combo!
What goes better with pasta than cheese? With cheese, you can make several creamy sauces to your pasta, from simple to complicated ones. Or you can sprinkle grated cheese on top and bake them in the oven. Whatever options, you will never go wrong.
Mac and cheese is a familiar dinner dish for every household. So how about twisting things up for a bit by making it with a sheet pan instead of the regular baking tray? All other steps, except for the last one, stay the same.
Thanks to the sheet pan, your mac and cheese has a nice, crunchy crust and edges that anybody will love for sure. You can even top it with panko before baking for an extra crispy layer.
All the cheese lovers, show me your hands! What I have here is precisely your dream come true! A pasta full of cheese! And when I say “full of cheese,” I mean it! There are totally five types of cheese in there: Mozzarella, fontina, ricotta, parmesan, and asiago cheese.
You may think all these cheeses will go against each other and overbalance the dish, I say otherwise. They are so harmonious together that you can hardly stop yourself from devouring this dish. Add some seafood or meat if you want to make this pasta into a main course.
Eating baked tortellini is my little guilty pleasure. I won’t say it’s healthy with all the cheese and meat. But somehow eating it makes me forget about my weight and my diet. That’s why I tend to cut this dish down and make it into a side dish instead.
And there are various ways to make it healthier. For example, get rid of the meat in the broth and add spinach besides the tortellini. Don’t worry if you can’t finish it in one go. Keep it in the fridge for your breakfast the following day.
Feel your baked tortellini too normal? Maybe you miss some of these tricks!
This dish originates from Jews with the name “kugel.” But let’s just call it noodle pudding here. It’s hard to tell whether it’s a savory or sweet dish as it contains ingredients from both sides. As for me, kugel makes a beautiful side dish for all dinner meals.
If you are still confused about this noodle pudding, just imagine it as a cheesecake with noodles. That’s because it’s made of egg noodles baked in a sweet mixture of custard, cream cheese, cottage cheese, and butter. Some even sprinkle raisins as its topping.
You often find these stuffed shells as the main dish with a salad on the side. But you can still make them into an accompaniment with your steak dinner. That, of course, requires some changes in the recipe.
Regularly, these shells are stuffed with ground beef or sausage. But you can cut down on meat and use different types of cheese and spinach instead. Top them with lots of cheese and tomato sauce. Now, you just have to wait until they’re all baked thoroughly.
Here is an example of stuffed shells that will make you fall in love with them again.
Just from the way it sounds, everyone knows this dish is super easy to make. And that’s true! With just about 15 minutes, including the pasta cooking time, you already have a delicious side dish to go with your dinner.
Aside from the chicken broth, there’s no meat in the recipe. But you can add boneless chicken to it for extra protein. And the most wonderful thing about this pasta is that it doesn’t require any heavy cream, making it less rich and easier to eat as a side dish.
If you want something rich and healthy at the same time, let’s come to this pasta. While it contains lots of grated parmesan cheese, making the whole dish creamy and gooey, numerous chopped spinach helps balance the flavor.
Also, this recipe is a one-pot dish, which means you don’t have to worry about the afterward clean-up. You can serve it with various foods, from chicken, pork chops to fish, and even vegetarian ones.
If you are a bit tired of regular creamy spinach orzo, here is one way to spice things up!
Nothing makes me happier than a bowl of pasta primavera. Full of colors, full of veggies, and full of flavors. What can I ask for more? Even my children won’t push this dish away!
All the vegetables in this dish are cooked just enough to turn soft and get rid of their bitterness without being completely mushy. Then, mix them with pasta in lemon juice and grate some parmesan cheese on top.
I often choose short, bite-sized pasta like fusilli or penne pasta for easier eating.
You can see this video to know more:
For me, this salad is the shortest way to go to Italy. All of the Tuscany flavors are condensed into a bowl of salad. Tortellini are already tasty enough on their own. But when combined with the sour tomatoes, rich cheese, their flavor is on another level.
Other kinds of pasta with nooks and crannies like farfalle, fusilli, or bowtie pasta are appropriate for this dish since they can absorb the dressing well. However, that means you need to drizzle more sauce than regular. Or else, your salad can turn dry.
It’s adult time with this Gigi Hadid pasta! You may wonder about its strange name. Well, the reason is pretty simple: Its creator is a model named Gigi Hadid. And if you want a more straightforward name, you can go by “spicy vodka pasta.” Now you’ve understood why this dish is only for grown-ups.
In fact, vodka is here for a reason: It prevents the cream sauce from breaking down and elevates other ingredients’ flavor. But of course, you can skip the wine if your children want to enjoy this dish too. The taste won’t change much.
You can see this video to know more:
This is a fusion between the two most famous cuisines: Italian pasta and French onion soup. And you must imagine how it tastes already: Absolutely fantastic!
French onion soup is often served with butter-covered bread floating on top. But in this recipe, I have pasta to replace it. You can choose whatever pasta you want, from long ones like fettuccine to bite-sized ones like shells.
Perfect this French onion pasta, and people will start to look at you like a professional chef. You can see this video to know more:
At first glance, you may think it’s risotto. While it does look like one, parmesan orzo is still a pasta dish. And it’s much easier to make than risotto since risotto requires frequent stirring and adding broth, this pasta doesn’t.
You just need to saute the garlic and shallot and cook a liquid mixture of milk, flour, and parmesan cheese. And toss in the al dente orzo in the sauce. That’s all for a beautiful side dish! It goes the best with roasted or pan-seared dishes.
Simple Yet Tasty Pasta Side Dishes With Different Kinds Of Meat
Of course, you’ll need some meat for this list. Although these pasta recipes are all side dishes, adding meat to them doesn’t ruin their category. It actually provides more protein to your dishes. So, let’s find out what I have in store for you.
BLT sandwiches are like a close relative to many of us. But now, just these same old ingredients: bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes, with the addition of pasta, things have changed by a mile.
The answer lies in the mayonnaise-based ranch dressing: It’s creamy, it’s tangy, and it’s full of herbs. So, to experience the full flavor of this sauce, you should get bite-sized pasta like shells, penne, or orecchiette.
BLT pasta salad sounds simple, but here is how to elevate it. You can see this video to know more:
Have you ever thought of combining taco into a pasta dish? If not, it’s time for you to try it! Basically, this is a pasta dish in a taco sauce full of ground meat, veggies, and spices.
However, stay away from those ready-made packets. They may be convenient, but their flavor is as bland as you can imagine. I always made the sauce myself so that I can alter the taste based on my mood.
And you can add cheese if you want this dish creamier or sprinkle some chips on top for a crunchy texture.
This is one of those dishes that taste better if homemade. The alfredo sauce package in every grocery store can have enough of the rich flavor and smooth consistency that I’m looking for. So, the best choice is always making one yourself.
And since you’ll make this as a side dish, add some cream cheese, so it tastes a bit tangy, awaking people’s palate. Chicken or other ingredients are a yes or no, depending on how hearty you want your meal to be.
Nothing beats pasta carbonara in terms of convenience. This consists of pasta, cheese, bacon, and eggs. Only four ingredients. For an incredibly delicious dish. When you come home dead tired, this pasta will comfort you in an instant.
And you don’t have to invest too much time or effort to make it. Just al dente pasta tossed in a rich sauce and sprinkled with bacon and parmesan cheese. It can’t be any easier, right? The most common pasta choice for this is spaghetti, so you can go with it.
This classic pasta carbonara will capture anyone’s heart. You can see this video to know more:
With just one dish, you get to enjoy both of the most comfort foods in America: Chili and mac & cheese. On a chilly day, nothing warms you up faster than this dish.
And what I love the most about it is I can totally make use of my leftover food. Some chili from the last dinner, just toss the macaroni and cheese in, you’ll get a dish that tastes better than just some leftovers. Not to mention, it takes just about half an hour to make!
Does This List Strike Your Heart?
With 27 recipes on this list, I believe you won’t have to worry about your side dishes for a long time. I have tried everything in this article with my family, and all fall in love with them! So, don’t worry about making some for your family!
If you still have any unanswered questions about this list, please write them down in the comment section so I can solve them for you. And don’t forget to share these recipes with anyone who is in need.