15 Recipes To Upgrade Spaghetti Night

Of all the pantry staples cherished by the home cook, dried pasta just might be the savior of the kitchen. Widely available, extremely affordable, and shelf stable for basically forever, dried pasta has come to the rescue of many a weeknight meal, when even those of us passionate about cooking can't seem to muster up the energy to create anything too complicated. In under an hour and using other common pantry ingredients such as olive oil and canned tomatoes, dishes such as penne arrabiata, orecchiette with sausage, and penne alla vodka can grace your table, providing deliciousness and comfort after a long day.

While different dried pasta shapes are utilized in distinct dishes, one of the most versatile by far is spaghetti — those long, rounded strands of moderate thickness that take well to a huge variety of sauces. And while plain ol' tomato sauce or bottled pesto are legitimate options, sometimes you just want to fancy up spaghetti with luxurious ingredients such as smoked salmon, crispy pork cutlets, and homemade cream sauce. For those nights, then, we present 15 of our favorite gussied-up spaghetti recipes, which are sure to make a memorable impression at dinner.

Smoked Salmon Pasta

An easy one-pot dish that comes together in 20 minutes and delivers big, bold flavors, this smoked salmon pasta features spaghetti that's boiled until al dente, drained, and then added to a skillet to sauté in olive oil, diced red chili, and minced garlic. 

Fresh lemon juice and zest are added to the pan, along with chunked smoked salmon and halved cherry tomatoes. After heating through briefly, the simple yet elegant pasta is plated and garnished with chopped fresh chives.

Recipe: Smoked Salmon Pasta

Lemon Spaghetti

In this citrus-bright take on creamy pasta, Tasting Table recipe developer Miriam Hahn goes for a light approach, calling on a zingy, olive-oil based dressing to bring slick creaminess to the spaghetti, instead of the usual suspects of butter or cream.

To make it, you'll first boil spaghetti, working on the dressing — a whisked-together mix of fresh lemon zest and juice, minced garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper — while the pasta cooks. Once the pasta is drained and back in its pot, just toss the lemony dressing right in. Plenty of grated Parmesan adds further richness, and chopped fresh basil brings some bright herbaceousness.

Recipe: Lemon Spaghetti

Pork Milanese And Cacio E Pepe

You might be familiar with cacio e pepe — pasta that's tossed with some of its cooking water, grated aged cheese, and plenty of black pepper, creating a rich, creamy sauce without the need for any butter, cream, or oil. Made here with spaghetti, cacio e pepe is rich enough as it is, but why not luxe up dinner with the addition of pounded, breaded pork cutlets that are fried until golden brown?

Although this might sound like a lot, the dish actually comes together in about 40 minutes. The creamy pasta is served crowned with the hot, crispy cutlets, plus plenty of fresh chopped parsley and lemon wedges, for a festive pasta dinner your guests will love.

Recipe: Pork Milanese And Cacio E Pepe

Instant Pot Spaghetti

To start off this super-streamlined meat sauce pasta, Tasting Table recipe developer Susan Olayinka sautés ground beef in the Instant Pot with olive oil and shallots. Once browned, canned tomato purée is added to the pot and the spaghetti, which is broken in half, is laid on top. Diced canned tomatoes and canned chicken stock are then added.

Once loaded up, the Instant Pot is set to pressure cook on high for just 7 minutes, and the steam is quick-released. Once stirred together and plated, the hearty, meaty pasta is garnished with fresh basil and ready to be enjoyed.

Recipe: Instant Pot Spaghetti

Spaghetti Carbonara With Kale And Hazelnuts

Spaghetti carbonara is a time-tested Roman dish that comes together by rendering chopped guanciale (Italian cured pork jowl), pancetta, or even bacon in a skillet. The crisped pork is removed, while the remaining fat, once cooled, is whisked in a mixing bowl with egg yolks, grated Parmesan, and olive oil.

Cooked spaghetti is then added to the egg mixture. This is done off heat, which will ensure a creamy, not scrambled, result. Drizzling in pasta water as needed, you'll then stir in bright, fresh lemon zest, the cooked pork, chopped Tuscan kale that you've briefly boiled and squeezed out, and chopped roasted hazelnuts. Plated and garnished with additional Parm, this gussied-up take on the classic is sure to be a hit.

Recipe: Spaghetti Carbonara With Kale And Hazelnuts

Spaghetti Alla Gricia

A somewhat similar recipe to pasta carbonara, spaghetti alla gricia nixes the egg yolks and adds some white wine to the party. To make this quick and delicious dish, you'll first boil some spaghetti and drain it, reserving some cooking water. As the pasta cooks, brown some guanciale in a skillet, add the white wine to deglaze the pan, and simmer this pan sauce down with the reserved pasta water until thickened.

Then, you'll tumble in the cooked pasta and some grated Pecorino Romano, stirring everything over medium heat until the sauce clings to the pasta. Once plated, the creamy, porky spaghetti is garnished with additional grated cheese.

Recipe: Spaghetti Alla Gricia

Easy Baked Spaghetti

If you love baked pasta dishes, you're sure to enjoy this baked spaghetti, which delivers the same warm, comforting flavors of a lasagna or ziti. To make it, start by cooking your spaghetti to al dente. While that's working, you'll create a meat sauce, sautéing ground beef, onion, and garlic in a skillet. Then add crushed tomatoes and reduce the sauce.

The cooked and drained spaghetti gets tossed in the meat sauce, then layered in a greased baking dish along with a quick béchamel made on the stove. Next cover the dish with foil and bake it, removing the foil halfway through to scatter shredded mozzarella over the top. Return the dish to the oven until everything is bubbly, golden brown, and irresistible.

Recipe: Easy Baked Spaghetti

Spaghetti With Clams And Green Olives

A take on linguine with clam sauce that subs in spaghetti, this quick, garlicky pasta also features roughly chopped olives that bring extra brininess to the dish.

Start by sautéing sliced garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil, then adding dry white wine, reducing it, and tumbling in four pounds of scrubbed fresh clams. Pop a lid on the pan until the clams steam open, about 8 minutes.

While that's cooking, boil some spaghetti and drain it. When the clams are open, toss in the spaghetti and chopped olives, moistening the pasta with reserved cooking water. Once plated and topped with chopped parsley and fresh lemon zest, all you'll need is some good, crusty bread to sop up the delicious sauce.

Recipe: Spaghetti With Clams And Green Olives

Pasta World Championship Seafood Spaghetti

This award-winning spaghetti dish is a showstopper, featuring the delights of the sea in four forms. First, you'll craft an inky-black "carpaccio" with puréed fresh scallops and squid ink (that's two), which is spread onto a baking sheet, topped with dried spaghetti, and baked until it's crisp and can be cut into squares.

Next, you'll bread shucked oysters in panko (that's three) and fry them until crisp. Next, make a quick cream sauce with shallots and Champagne and fold in additional shucked oysters as well as pressed caviar (that's four).

This over-the-top dish comes together by folding the cooked spaghetti into the creamy seafood sauce, plating it atop a square of "carpaccio," and garnishing it with the fried oysters. Have a special occasion coming up? If you've got some cash to burn on ingredients and a couple hours of kitchen time to spare, then we think this is your dish.

Recipe: Pasta World Championship Seafood Spaghetti

Zinfandel Spaghetti

If you love to accompany a plate of pasta with a glass of bold red wine, why not literally combine the two? Chef Michael Chiarello's take on a classic Italian dish of "drunken spaghetti" is a definite crowd pleaser, boasting a glossy red wine sauce that's tasty as well as attractive. Making it is a simple affair, consisting of reducing Zinfandel, tossing in some parboiled spaghetti, and then cooking it down until the wine reduces even further and clings to the pasta.

Parboiled rapini (broccoli rabe) gets sautéed in olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes and stirred into the pasta, which is then showered with grated Pecorino Romano and served.

Recipe: Zinfandel Spaghetti

Breakfast Carbonara

If eggs, bacon, and cheese regularly grace your breakfast table, why not enjoy them alongside pasta instead of toast? Chef Hugh Acheson regularly makes this spaghetti carbonara for breakfast, first rendering diced slab bacon in a skillet, removing it with a slotted spoon, then frying chopped onion in the remaining fat. 

Al dente spaghetti is tossed in, and then, off the heat, a whisked mixture of eggs and grated Parmesan is stirred in until it thickens. Once seasoned, plated, and topped with additional Parm and fresh herbs, this unusual — yet deeply satisfying — breakfast is ready to go. 

Recipe: Breakfast Carbonara

Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

A good casserole is a thing of comfort food beauty, and this creamy noodle casserole studded with shredded chicken and diced veggies is no exception. To make it, first simmer some bone-in chicken thighs, let them cool, then pick off all the meat and discard the bones. Then, you'll parboil broken-up spaghetti in the leftover broth, drain it, and transfer it to a mixing bowl. Next, add the shredded chicken, shredded cheddar cheese, diced peppers and onions, two cans of cream of mushroom soup, a cup of the leftover chicken-pasta water broth, and a hint of cayenne for spice.

Once spooned into a casserole dish, the mixture is topped with more cheddar and baked until everything goes bubbly and browned, about 45 minutes. Then, the creamy, comforting casserole is ready to enjoy alongside a green salad and crusty bread.

Recipe: Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

Wok-Fried Spaghetti Arrabbiata

The super-spicy Italian tomato sauce arrabbiata features plenty of crushed red pepper flakes and comes together in just a few minutes, making it a great option for a weeknight meal. In this twist on the original, chef Sarah Grueneberg turns to her wok, stir-frying spaghetti noodles before incorporating them into a blended arrabiata flavored with homemade chile-garlic oil. Grueneberg's recipe calls for homemade spaghetti, if you want to go the extra mile, but there's no reason you can't use al dente-cooked dried pasta if you prefer.

The dish comes together when the stir-fried noodles are tossed with the sauce over high heat, along with quickly stir-fried deveined shrimp and a little shrimp or vegetable stock to moisten everything. Plated and garnished with fresh parsley and additional chile oil, this spaghetti dish is sure to appeal to those who love spice.

Recipe: Wok-Fried Spaghetti Arrabbiata

Simple Spaghetti Carbonara

What pasta-loving person doesn't need three recipes for pasta carbonara? If you want to add this third one to your repertoire, know that it will only take you 20 minutes from start to finish. First, add your spaghetti to liberally salted boiling water. As the pasta cooks to al dente, sauté butter, chopped pancetta, and garlic in a pan big enough to hold the pasta. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the water.

Next, add the spaghetti to the oil mix, stirring to coat. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in a whisked-together mix of eggs and grated Parmesan, with some pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. All the luxurious spaghetti needs, post-plating, is a showering of extra Parm, and it's ready to be enjoyed.

Recipe: Simple Spaghetti Carbonara

Sweet Corn Cacio E Pepe

Cacio e pepe, that simple pasta dish featuring a sauce made from just pasta cooking water, grated aged cheese, and black pepper, is surprisingly luxurious and creamy given its bare-bones list of ingredients — creamy enough that it benefits from the bright, contrasting pop of sweet summer corn kernels featured in this spin on the original.

The perfect pasta dish to cook up when corn is in season, the spaghetti benefits from a quick corn stock made with the cobs once the kernels have been sheared off. As beautiful on the plate as it is on the palate, this summery cacio e pepe might just make it to your dinner table weekly between the months of May and September.

Recipe: Sweet Corn Cacio E Pepe