Food

21 Italian pasta recipes that are basically just hugs in a bowl

When you're planning dinner — either cooking, taking out or dining out — it can be tough to agree on a cuisine. But no one's ever not in the mood for Italian. A warm bowl of pasta topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano will resolve any conflict and dissolve any stress. (No, this isn't scientifically proven, but come on.)

So, we've collected our ooziest, gooeyist, al dente-ist Italian pastas for you to cozy up with after a long day. And let's not get into what's "authentic" and what's not — everyone has their own way. Hopefully a few of these, though, will remind you of how your nonna used to make it.

Pasta with Salsa Cruda
Pasta with tomato salsa
Grace Parisi / TODAY
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Bring together ripe juicy tomatoes, fresh basil, pecorino, and lots of fruity olive oil to make a quintessential uncooked pasta sauce. The only heat comes from the hot pasta, which soaks up all the delicious juices.

Perfect Pasta Pomodoro
Scott Conant's pasta pomodoro recipe
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
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Scott Conant's pasta pomodoro is like heaven in your mouth. It's a sensory experience that you'll never forget. The only downside is that no other pasta pomodoro will ever taste as good to you.

RELATED: Chef's secret: How to use tomato paste the right way

Cacio e Pepe
Carlo Mirarchi, the chef at Roberta's in Brooklyn, makes classic cacio e pepe
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The predecessor of mac and cheese as we know it now, this Roman dish is made with pasta, cheese and pepper. The secret is using the starchy pasta's cooking water to create a creamy sauce that coats each strand. The result is perhaps the ultimate 3-ingredient pasta.

Rosemary Pasta in Butter-Roasted Garlic Sauce
Rosemary Pasta in Butter-Roasted Garlic Sauce
Shutterstock / Arina P Habich
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The simplest ingredients — rosemary, garlic and butter — infuse the spaghetti with seriously powerful flavor. As is so common with pasta, less is definitely more in this case.

Pasta with Salami and Cheese (Gubbio Pasta Salumi)
Randy Altig's recipe for pasta with salami and cheese
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
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Here's an important tip for this one: Cook the pasta with unsalted water for half of its cooking time (molto al dente), then transfer the pasta from the boiling water right into the sauce — the creamy, cheesy, salty sauce. The pasta finishes cooking in the sauce — not the water.

Giada's Artichoke Risotto
Giada De Laurentiis's Artichoke Risotto
Nathan R. Congleton / TODAY
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Pureed roasted garlic and lemon zest cut through the creaminess of Giada's risotto with a welcome tangy flavor.

Pasta with Italian Sausage, Tomato Sauce and Crispy Sage
John Alberti's Pasta with Italian Sausage, Tomato Sauce and Crispy Sage
Nathan R. Congleton / TODAY
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Twin Italian chefs Tony and John Alberti pair their five-ingredient sauce with long strands of tagliatelle that cling to the sauce perfectly, then top it with crispy fried sage leaves for an extra layer of texture.

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The ultimate warm-your-soul dish, packed with beans and veggies, pasta fagiole is like the Italian version of chili.

Luscious Lazy Slow-Cooker Lasagna
Wendy Bazilian makes her Luscious Lazy Slow-Cooker Lasagna
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
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Luscious and lazy: Is there a better combo? While this lasagna is delicious fresh out of the slow cooker, we'd argue it's even better the next day.

RELATED: Is reheated pasta really healthier? What you need to know

Penne with Fresh Mozzarella, Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil
Penne pasta with heirloom tomatoes, grated parmesan cheese, basil and other ingredients.
Brandon Goodwin / TODAY
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If you're in the mood for a lighter, more refreshing pasta dish, Scott Conant's colorful penne dish is like spring on a plate.

Lidia Bastianich's Spaghetti Carbonara
Lidia Bastianich makes spaghetti carbonara for Easter
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
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Perhaps a perfect dish, this pasta is simply made with spaghetti, bacon, eggs and grated cheese. Since there are so few ingredients, be sure to choose the best possible version of each since they'll all shine through.

Gemelli with Kale Pesto and Olives
Courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis
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Sure, this is an unconventional pesto — made with walnuts, kale and orange juice — but that doesn't make it lesser than your typical basil-pine nut combo. It's got a nice bitterness to it, and, paired with olives, more of a bite.

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This pasta cooks entirely in one pan (without boiling water first — seriously) and, with all its starch, makes its own creamy sauce.

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Giada's mezzi rigatoni only uses five simple ingredients but they work together to create a complex combination of flavors: peppery arugula, creamy, sweet butternut squash, spicy Italian sausage, salty Parmesan, and, of course, butter.

Pasta with Basil-Pistachio Pesto
Basil pesto with pasta
Lauren Salkeld
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Pistachios sub in for pine nuts for a sweeter, fruitier, brighter pesto to coat your pasta with.

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This recipe cuts down on cook time and calorie count, but doesn't lose any of the rib-sticking, slow-simmered comfort of classic Bolognese. It's a win-win.

Tagliatelle and Italian Sausage with Sage Cream Sauce
Toni Alberti's Tagliatelle and Italian Sausage with Sage Cream Sauce
Nathan R. Congleton / TODAY
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Creamy and rich, with fragrant fresh sage and crispy fried sage leaves, this pasta is way easier than it looks (and tastes!).

Ricotta Gnocchi with Herbs
Ricotta Gnocchi with Herbs
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
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Don’t panic if you’ve never made homemade pasta before! This recipe has a simple, ingenious way to turn gnocchi dough into perfect bite-size pillows.

RELATED: 9 easy and delicious tomato sauce recipes you'll want to use on everything

Pasta Shells with Pesto and Peas
Pesto Pasta with Peas
Cook Smarts
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Bring a little glimpse of spring into your kitchen with this vibrantly green dish. Hiding inside the shells, the peas and pine nuts are a pleasant surprise in each bite.

Four Cheese Wild Mushroom Lasagna
Four Cheese Wild Mushroom Lasagna
Grace Parisi / TODAY
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With four — count 'em, four — cheeses, a creamy white sauce, and a mix of roasted wild mushrooms, this vegetarian lasagna is the definition of decadence.

Baked Rigatoni with Italian Sausage, Peppers and Onions
Kristin Sollenne cooks up Baked Rigatoni with Italian Sausage, Peppers and Onions
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
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The classic trio of Italian sausage, peppers and onions combine with rigatoni to make a gooey baked pasta you'll always keep in your back pocket.

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