If I got stuck on a desert island, I would ask to take my toothbrush, a two-quart pot, and a lifetime supply of spaghetti (whole-wheat, please) plus tomato sauce (Marcella Hazan's or this buttery no-cook number). As a vegetarian, I eat pasta an astonishing number of times each week, relying on it for just about everything.
Do I need a quick and convenient dinner? There's a pasta for that. Am I trying to impress my boyfriend's family? I turn to pasta, too. Am I feeling a little down? Who but pasta could see me through? Pasta's also the perfect vehicle for many vegetables, when I don't really feel like eating vegetables (yes, even vegetarians have this problem).
For these occasions and more, here are 38 vegetarian pasta recipes that prove that pasta is the answer to every question.
This pasta converted a whole-wheat hater into a lifelong fan, and to this I say: Welcome to the dark side. We have lots of spicy, lemony sauces and crispy fried hazelnuts here.
Of course vegetable whisperer and all-around Genius Deborah Madison came up with this quickie, ultra-comforting dynamo. While it undoubtedly cures all blues (it's filled with funky Gorgonzola cheese and toasty walnuts, for crying out loud), you should really be eating it every day as a preventative measure.
In this dish, nutty, crunchy buckwheat groats team up with deeply caramelized onions and mushrooms. The only thing that could make this situation better is...well...pasta, and luckily tender farfalle's in the mix, too.
Nutty, gluten-free chickpea-flour noodles are the perfect bed for earthy kale; smoky, spicy harissa paste; and kalamata olives, which bring a briny bite. Feel free to swap out the chickpea fettuccine with the durum variety—and maybe even add cooked chickpeas to the whole thing.
What do you get when you put together al dente spaghetti, a tangy crème fraîche–white wine sauce, a bunch of spinach, and crispy toasted walnuts? A really good thing, that's what. It's also infinitely riffable—use any kind of green or nut or noodle you have on hand.
Caramelized cabbage! Sage-infused brown butter! Toasty walnuts! And PASTA! I'll take this one with extra cheese and a glass of dry white wine on the side.
Gorgonzola and walnuts, we meet again—and on pasta! How about that. This time, slightly bitter radicchio and a whole orange's worth of zest bring a ton of pep and personality.
Run out of ways to use up all that asparagus on your hands? Really go for it here by blitzing up a creamy, hearty asparagus–ricotta pesto, and put it on just about everything (notably, cute little twirls of fusilli).
Ruth Rogers of the famed River Café London has given us so many gifts, and this tangle of tagliarini with crunchy asparagus spears and about a million herbs is no exception. It's pretty much springtime in a bowl.
As Genius Recipes excavator Kristen Miglore says, this asparagus-centric pasta from Craig Claiborne is "a mashup of all the best pasta sauces—tomato, asparagus, and carbonara—with surprisingly harmonious results." Kristen, we're so in.
Little coins of asparagus, sorrel, and flecks of fresh mint perk up this springy bowl of pasta beautifully—and more beautiful yet is that all the action happens in one bowl (and 20 minutes!). You won't regret adding this to your to-make list.
This pasta definitely doesn't skimp on the veg—it's got two whole pounds of asparagus!—but what really makes it shine is the aillade, a "simple, sublime sauce of pounded nuts and garlic from southern France." Yes, please. Pro tip: It's just as good at room temp as it is warm.
Just 15 minutes separates you from creamy, zesty, noodle-y glory, packed with asparagus and toasty walnuts. Who says good things only come to those who wait?
Turns out Swiss chard stalks don't belong in the compost—they belong in your pesto, along with a ton of crunchy pepitas and fennel seeds and cheese.
This super-quick take on kale pesto pasta (done in well under 15 minutes!) is a game changer, for sure. Don't believe me? By the time you've doubted, you could've finished eating it.
Folks, this one's ultra-creamy—and ultra-vegan! Fragrant pesto does a dance with cashew cheese, and our spaghetti hasn't been the same since.
The ripest summer plum tomatoes, almonds, and celery leaves make the summer-iest pesto out there. Top it with raw fresh corn, cut off the cob, and you've peaked.
Pesto traditionalists, hold on to your hats—no herbs and nuts in this rendition. But trust me and try it anyway. There's a whole lot of garlic, and cheese.
Green is good, especially in this bubbly baked pasta with broccoli pesto. Smoked mozzarella takes it to a whole other level.
20. Pesto Trapanese
Pesto Trapanese, I love you. Last time I was in Italy, I brought home, like, five bottles. Kind of like the Italian cousin to a romesco sauce, I could eat this by the spoon (and plan on it). Oh, it's also good on pasta of any and all sorts.
Another kale-y riff on our herbaceous friend. Creamy cashews guest star, too, to make a deliciously rich and full-bodied sauce.
This is technically pesto insofar that it's a bright, light, very-green sauce with lots of sharp cheese and olive oil. Call it whatever you want, though—we'll take two bowls, please and thanks.
Zippy preserved lemon, floral za'atar, and crispy-crunchy fried onions top off an absolutely glorious spread of mac and cheese. We have Ottolenghi and Noor Murad, plus the other fine folks at the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen, to thank for this little number. Thanks!
Community member and Dinner's Ready columnist EmilyC isn't afraid to use a smart shortcut for a better, faster meal, and this recipe is no exception. Here, Emily slowly caramelizes cabbage to draw out its meaty, silky qualities, then tosses it with hot pasta dressed with store-bought pesto. It's a wintertime meal that feels extra-special but is secretly really easy to put together.
A vision of summer! This allium-ified spaghetti uses scallions in three ways, to three different effects (hint: one of them is charred to smoky perfection).
So. Many. Vegetables! And so. Few. Dishes! Embrace the combo—and then make it rain with cheese.
Geometric romanesco (which looks a little like a green cauliflower who got a fun haircut) gets up close and personal with toasty tomato paste, plumped-up golden raisins, briny capers, and a splash of dry white wine. This whole mess is tossed with curly or tubey pasta, so the sauce can really get in there.
If you can throw stuff on a sheet pan, then you can make this. And you'll be rewarded for it handily, with a ratatouille-like roasted-veg mix that a healthy handful of penne can sop right up.
This crowd-pleasing pasta couldn't be easier—and it's vegan, to boot. Just dice up summer's best eggplant and plum tomatoes; sauté in a pan with garlic, onion, and a bunch of red pepper flakes; throw on linguine; wonder why you didn't make this sooner.
Juicy, sweet tomatoes create the beginnings of a sauce for this super-simple summery pasta. It's finished off with a few dollops of creamy ricotta, because ricotta's always a great decision.
Another vegan hit! Caramelized, basically-falling-apart vegetables envelope penne in this dish, and the whole thing's topped with crunchy, buttery, irresistible pine nuts. Fresh basil and oregano add some brightness and pep at the end.
This pasta's basically a salad, since everything except the spaghetti's raw (read: even easier to put together). It's also full of super-flavorful, brilliantly textured bites, like soft, sweet mozzarella and salty olives.
An unbelievably creamy pasta—without a lick of cream (thanks, Greek yogurt)! Three kinds of deeply caramelized alliums, sweet peas, and a ton of chopped herbs brighten it all up.
This is what happens when almost-pureed mushrooms get roasty-toasty with cream, tomato paste, and a dry white wine: a meaty, luxurious, chock-full-of-flavor sauce that's 100% vegetarian. It's also incredibly easy to make at home.
Funky red miso stands up beautifully to a host of mushrooms in this hearty, comforting pasta sauce. And as I always say, double the umami, double the fun.
Embrace all the squash in your CSA with this well-balanced dish. Nutmeg, honey, and licorice-y tarragon cut through the uber-creamy ricotta sauce that coats the pasta and veg.
Recipe writer (and lifelong vegetarian) Sarah Jampel has never lusted after "porchetta or ragu, carnitas or banh mi—but of spaghetti carbonara, where the meat is more like the punctuation marks of a sentence than the letters themselves." So she set out to make a vegetarian version that has all of the verve of the smoky, porky dish. And my, did she succeed.
How do you make a pasta packed with springy vegetables and zippy herbs even better? Bathe it all in heavy cream and cheese, of course.
This is the O.G. creamy pasta, for all you creamy pasta purists: It contains just three ingredients (one of them a whole cup of cream!) and requires just 15 minutes to whip up. Lemony luxury awaits.
Another five-ingredient, 15-minute weeknight miracle worker from Jamie Oliver. It stars a melange of mushrooms to impart a ton of flavor, and a good dollop of crème fraîche to make its silky sauce.
Forget the cheese plate—Brie makes the most perfect pasta sauce. Pair it with sweet summer tomatoes and fresh basil confetti, and you have yourself one amazing dish.
For cheesy stuffed shells with ample nutritional value, look no further than this recipe. Jumbo shells are stuffed with creamy ricotta, kale's blended up into a smooth sauce and tossed with white beans, and the whole thing is baked on a bed of your favorite prepared marinara sauce and topped with mountains of gooey cheese.
This one's reminiscent of cacio e pepe, but with lots more umami—all because of mixed mushrooms. Pepper and pecorino are part of the recipe title, so sprinkle some extra of each over the top when you serve it up.
This one's not just vegetarian, it's vegan! But it doesn't feel any less special than your traditional plate of pasta al limone. Trust me, I wrote this recipe, and ate it for months without getting tired of it. That's how you know it's good!