There’s really never a bad time for pasta. Need a simple weeknight dinner? Toss together some noodles in garlic and oil. Cooking for a special occasion? Can’t go wrong with a classic shrimp scampi. Want some good old-fashioned comfort food? Spaghetti and meatballs is an obvious choice. Entertaining a crowd? Lasagna never disappoints. Equally popular as a quick-fix meal or an elegant entree, pasta is pretty much the best.
But it turns out you can improve on an already good thing. These 21 pasta recipes don’t just hit the spot where taste is concern, but every part of the cooking process—from boiling the pasta to preparing the sauces—happens in a single pot. This roundup is for anyone who hates doing dishes (so basically, everyone).
Lighter than a traditional Italian meat sauce spaghetti but more filling than a Greek salad, this dish is the perfectly balanced Mediterranean meal. It trades beef for turkey, mozzarella for feta, and basil for parsley—a great way to switch up pasta night.
It’s not often you’d find hearty Cajun chicken in a light and lemony sauce, but thanks to this blogger, the combination has been tried, tested, and successful. The spicy flavors of the seasoning are a great match with the refreshing citrus, and you get tons of flavor in each bite—in fact, you may not even need the Parmesan.
You could put fajita seasoning on a boot and it would taste good. Thankfully, this recipe uses the spice mix on juicy pieces of chicken, then tosses them with veggies and pasta. Even though the meat is cooked independently, the same pan is used for everything else.
So many mac and cheese recipes come with more trouble (and pots) than they’re worth. This one does away with all the unnecessary work by calling for a single pan and manages to add in extra nutrition with ground turkey and baby spinach.
Several smart swaps join forces to make this tetrazzini easier on the arteries. Multiple lighter forms of dairy cut down on saturated fat, shredded turkey or chicken gives it a good pump of lean protein, and whole-wheat pasta ups the fiber count. Plus, everything comes together in an easy 30 minutes.
This pasta is even easier to put together since it has no actual sauce—in fact, it’s more like a stir-fry. Lots of broth keeps it from getting dry, the beans add a creamy element, and the sausage and garlic make sure it’s packed with flavor.
This Bolognese is paired with rice-like orzo instead of spaghetti to make the dish a lot easier (and less messy) to eat. The grain cooks right in the sauce, soaking up all those meaty juices, so that even if it takes only 20 minutes to cook, it tastes like it’s been simmering for hours.
Mexican night and pasta night become one and the same with this recipe, where meat and pasta cook together in salsa and taco seasoning. Stir in your favorite Mexican cheese and garnish with your favorite taco toppings for the perfect fusion dinner.
Want something that has the taste but not the side effects of a rich pasta? This is your answer. A combination of broth, flour, and reduced-fat milk make the penne, ham, and pea mixture creamy but not heavy. Plus, it cooks in just 15 minutes.
This take on Hamburger Helper is fresher, healthier, and can easily be adapted to gluten-free and vegan diets. Plus, since everything cooks in one pan, it’s just as convenient and time-saving as the original.
This recipe is like the teacher’s pet of one-pot pastas: It features healthy ingredients such as salmon and whole-wheat pasta, fits in tons of flavor from Parmesan, basil, and garlic, and cooks in a quick 20 minutes. It’s so perfect it’s almost annoying, but you know you’re going to rely on it when you’re in a pinch.
For your next easy weeknight dinner, consider this nutritional powerhouse. The beans and shrimp pack in protein, kale and zucchini provide some veggie action, and garlic and Parmesan take the taste over the top.
This recipe needs less than 10 ingredients and just 15 minutes of cooking time, but you’d never believe it from the rich end result. The secret to minimal work and maximum taste? Seafood that adds plenty of savory goodness on its own, so that only a few other simple additions are needed to round out the flavors.
This low-fat, high-protein shrimp diablo cuts back on the oil, but more than delivers when it comes to taste. With chili paste in addition to red pepper flakes, there’s a depth to the heat in here, making it way more sophisticated than a standard spicy sauce.
Anyone who believes seafood and dairy don’t go together can turn away now—and miss out on a pretty lip-smacking (and lighter) combination of shrimp, crab, and cheesy Alfredo sauce. It’s a fantastic way to put an elegant but easy and deceptively healthy meal on the table.
This pasta-fied take on the classic caprese salad includes fresh tomatoes and basil like the traditional combination, but then takes a sharp turn away from conventions and ditches the mozzarella in favor of a vegan cream sauce. With plenty of cheesy flavors coming in from the nutritional yeast, we promise you won’t miss the dairy for a second.
This eclectic recipe trades out Italian flavors such as basil, oregano, and parsley for Indian ingredients including cumin, coriander, and turmeric. The spices give it just enough heat without being overpowering, and you may be surprised by how well they go with spaghetti.
This 10-minute puttanesca-style pasta wins for being the quickest to come together, since everything from the spaghetti to the kale to the simple tomato sauce cooks at exactly the same time. The only unusual ingredient is a touch of miso paste as a vegan stand-in for anchovies, but it’s totally worth looking for, because if the taste and prep time are any indication, you’ll be making this recipe a lot.
Not only does this recipe ensure vegans don’t miss out on fettuccine Alfredo, it also figures out how to make the notoriously unhealthy sauce significantly lighter. Soy milk takes the place of heavy cream, nutritional yeast replaces the cheese, and a few dabs of vegan butter are enough to make this as velvety and thick as the real deal.
File this under “vegan pastas you can’t find at a restaurant.” Chickpeas add meatless protein, a lemony Dijon sauce coats the strands of spaghetti, and nutritional yeast gives it a cheesy finish. The recipe requires less than 10 ingredients, but the simple flavors are totally slurp-worthy.
Pumpkin purée and a few dollops of goat cheese get this pasta to its irresistible Alfredo-like consistency without the need for heavy cream. With nutmeg, black pepper, and white wine cutting the richness of the veggie-based sauce, this dish is how healthy decadence is done.