Genius Recipes

10 Genius Pasta Recipes That Honestly Couldn’t Be Easier

May  8, 2019

With Genius Recipes correspondent Kristen off for a few months trying to raise a genius newborn, we're revisiting the column's Greatest Hits with brand-new videos—and hearing from a few special surprise guests. Wish her luck! (And keep sending those tips.)

There are good pastas and then there are great pastas and then there are Genius pastas. Sometimes this title is bestowed thanks to an ultra-creative swap (like Tony Kim’s “Cacio” e Pepe, which forgos cheese and calls in miso instead). Other times, it’s because you flip a technique on its head (like Ina Garten’s roasted-not-simmered vodka sauce). And other times still, it’s because the recipe is superiorly simple.

Today, we’re cheersing to that—the easiest Genius pastas from over the years. Bookmark for an extra-tired weeknight or, you know, whenever you just want something really good without a lot of effort. (This is all of us always, right?)

1. Barbara Kafka's Creamy Lemon Pasta

Egg noodles, lemons, and cream are all you need to make this recipe—one of my favorite pastas of all time, dreamed up by the late Barbara Kafka. Don’t skimp on the black pepper!

2. Sue Kreitzman's Lemon Butter Angel Hair Pasta

More lemon magic! This time, instead of egg noodles, there is broken-up angel hair, and instead of cream, chicken stock and butter. You’ll just have to try both to pick your favorite.

3. Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce With Onion & Butter

Is there a simpler tomato sauce in the world? Let’s go with: no. Tomatoes, butter, and an onion team up to create something good enough to eat like soup (and yes, I have done this).

4. Al Forno's Penne With Tomato, Cream & 5 Cheeses

If you can boil pasta and combine ingredients in a mixing bowl, then you can make this creamy, cheesy baked pasta. Bonus: It’s infinitely adaptable, so you can riff on its flavors to your heart’s content.

5. Diane Kochilas's Pasta With Yogurt & Caramelized Onions

For your new favorite creamy pasta sauce, just turn to that tub of Greek yogurt in the fridge. Slowly caramelized onions and salty kefalotyri cheese to send it over the top.

6. Nigella Lawson's Linguine With Lemon, Garlic & Thyme Mushrooms

To learn the art of no-fuss, read Nigella Lawson’s recipes. Here, you combine thinly sliced mushrooms, garlic, thyme, olive oil, and lemon juice in a bowl for a breezy sauce.

7. Victoria Granof's Pasta Con Ceci

Chickpeas and tiny pasta swim in a tomato-y, garlicky broth. The recipe has one step, which gives you some idea of how uncomplicated this is.

8. Melissa Clark's Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Your new favorite mac and cheese in T-minus 15 minutes? Yep, it’s a thing, thanks to Melissa Clark’s Genius method: cook then drain pasta, simmer it with some cream, add lots of cheddar, ta da.

9. Kathy Brennan & Caroline Campion's Skillet Lasagna

Weeknight lasagna, here we come. This skillet version features no-boil noodles, pick-your-own sausage (sweet or hot), and two types of cheese for double the goodness.

10. Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

To all those pasta recipes that you have you cook your pasta in one pot and make your sauce in another, Martha Stewart says: no thanks. Besides that you save a dirty dish, the whole thing comes together in circa nine minutes.

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Perhaps something for beginners? Please send it Kristen's way (and tell her what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Mdbtss
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  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Mdbtss March 7, 2020
Emma, you are awesome! I discovered Food52 a few months ago. I’ve learned so much & really look forward to your segments!
Emma L. March 8, 2020
Thanks so much, Mdbtss! Welcome to the community :)
Leo D. June 3, 2019
Denise May 8, 2019
Beautiful, refreshing recipes! Delicious and easy to put together on a busy night! Great Job! Thank you! Emma!!!!
Emma L. March 8, 2020
(Belated) thanks, Denise!