Busy weeknights and casual weekends – these are the times when pasta recipes really come in handy. Even if you’re watching what you eat, pasta is a great go-to dish for anyone because it’s versatile, easy to prepare, and almost everyone loves it.

A lot of people think that pasta was invented in China and brought to Italy by Marco Polo in the 13th century. I’ve also seen a few conflicting reports stating that pasta has actually been around since the 1st century and what Marco brought with him was yet another recipe for the noodle we all know and love. What Marco couldn’t have predicted is how many different varieties of pasta recipes there would. It only took a few short centuries, but pasta really is one of the most popular food choices you’ll find anywhere.

From pasta salads, tortellini, lasagna, to heaping plates of steaming spaghetti, pasta is one food you just can’t leave off the menu. Here are a few quick pasta recipes that will fill your carb cravings:

Lasagna Baked Ziti 

When ‘something different’ is on your menu, this Lasanga Baked Ziti is the perfect choice. I’ve added two cups of mozza to add to the cheesiness. From Real Simple.

Ingredients:

12  ounces  ziti (about 4 cups)

1  tablespoon  olive oil

1  large onion, chopped

2  cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2  pound  lean ground beef

kosher salt and black pepper

1  26-ounce jar marinara sauce

1  bunch  spinach, thick stems removed (about 4 cups)

1/2  cup  ricotta

1/2  cup  grated Parmesan (2 ounces)

1  cup  grated mozzarella (4 ounces)

Directions

Heat oven to 400° F. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain it and return it to the pot.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the beef, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon until it’s no longer pink, 5 to 6 minutes.

Toss the pasta with the meat mixture, marinara sauce, spinach, ricotta, and ¼ cup of the Parmesan.

Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or 4 large ramekins. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and the remaining ¼ cup of the Parmesan. Bake until the cheese melts, 12 to 15 minutes.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Martha Stewart really knows her pasta, and this dish is no exception. I can’t think of a single person who hasn’t loved the creamy bacon sauce that covers the spaghetti.

Ingredients:

1 pound spaghetti

8 ounces (8 slices) bacon, cut 1 inch thick crosswise

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

3 large eggs

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1/2 cup half-and-half

Directions

Set a large pot of water to boil (for pasta). In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 12 minutes; transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Salt boiling water generously; add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together eggs, Parmesan, and half-and-half. Set aside.

Drain pasta, leaving some water clinging to it. Working quickly, add hot pasta to egg mixture. Add bacon; season with salt and pepper, and toss all to combine (heat from pasta will cook eggs). Serve immediately, sprinkled  with additional Parmesan cheese.

Easy spaghetti meatballs

Martha, Martha, Martha, how do you come up with these little gems? I’ve made Martha Stewart’s easy spaghetti and meatballs many times and it’s been the perfect meal every time. Tip – If you’re not into beef, substitute ground turkey.

Ingredients:

Coarse salt and ground pepper

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 large egg

1 pound ground beef chuck

1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes in puree

3/4 pound spaghetti

Directions

Set a large pot of salted water to boil. In a bowl, combine Parmesan, parsley, garlic, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add beef and breadcrumbs; mix gently. Form into 16 balls.

In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium. Add meatballs, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente. Drain, and return to pot; add meatballs and sauce, and toss gently. Serve with Parmesan.


Pasta is definitely a sanity saver on busy week nights. If you have a favourite pasta recipe, share it with us here. And if you need a few kitchen accessories to up your pasta skills, here are some of my go-to accessories:


Need a Dutch Oven for baked pasta? The Nordic Ware Dutch Oven Oven will be your new best friend.

The Norpro Krona Pasta Pot is a great size for cooking all types of pasta

Say goodbye to soggy, sticky pasta with the Vacu Vin Pasta Spoon. It has a built in timer so you can cook up the perfect noodles.