15 Budget-Friendly Italian Pasta Dishes That Are Easy And Delicious

Sometimes, dinner needs to be both easy and delicious. It also needs to be affordable these days. If you love pasta but need to stay out of a dinner rut, these wonderful Italian pasta dishes are a fantastic way to do just that. They keep things interesting without stretching your wallet, they are easy to make, and, best of all, they use regular ingredients you might already have at home. The only question is, which one will you try first?

1. Spaghetti Pie

A slice of spaghetti pie in a white bowl.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Have you ever tried a spaghetti pie? It’s a delicious alternative to the same ol’ spaghetti night and makes a terrific weeknight meal. This is also a great meal to make if you have a lot of leftover spaghetti. Serve this with a side salad and some garlic bread to round out the meal.

2. Cavatappi Pasta

An overhead view of a white mixing bowl filled with cavatappi pasta salad.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Cavatappi is a fun pasta. It makes great pasta dinners, salads, and more. This cavatappi pasta salad is a blend of Italian flavors that work well with or without meat. It all comes together for an easy weeknight meal that the entire family will rave about. This is also a fun pasta salad to take to barbecues, potlucks, and pretty much any family function.

3. Creamy Vegetable Pasta

A white plate filled with creamy vegetable pasta.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

If you enjoy creamy pasta, this creamy vegetable pasta recipe is a meal that is sure to satisfy. This recipe is made with a cashew cream sauce that is rich and delicate. It’s a plant-based pasta dish, and you can use frozen vegetables to create a delicious dinner in no time. Meat eaters can add some cooked sausage or shredded chicken to this for a complete meal.

4. Artichoke Chicken Pasta

An overhead view looking down into a serving bowl of this delicious artichoke chicken pasta. A wooden spoon is in the bowl, ready to serve the pasta.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Give this artichoke chicken pasta recipe a try just once, and you’ll find yourself craving it again and again. The sauce’s mild, lemony tang balances the garlic chicken flavor perfectly. This is a full and complete meal all on its own, so there’s no need for making side dishes. But if you find you prefer to have a side or two, a green salad and some garlic bread would go perfectly with this.

5. Dairy-Free Carbonara

A white bowl holds a nest of diary free carbonara.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Nothing could be simpler than this carbonara. It has all the delicious flavor you would expect from a dish like this. The creamy sauce perfectly blankets the spaghetti or fettuccini pasta for a beautiful flavor combination that will leave you craving more. Serve this with a steak or a chicken breast and some steamed veggies for a larger meal.

6. Rustic Italian Pasta Salad

A closeup of a white bowl filled with rustic Italian pasta.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This Rustic Italian Pasta Salad could be a side dish, but it holds its own as a main dish, too. Make this for dinner tonight, and it’s sure to be a hit, especially for those who love Italian flavors. It’s rustic, hearty, and meat-free, but you can add meat to this if you prefer. Try sausage, chunks of cooked steak, or some shredded chicken.

7. Baked Ziti

A closeup of baked ziti pasta.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Try this baked ziti for an effortlessly delicious dinner tonight. This casserole dish is easy to assemble, and the oven does most a portion of the work. It’s an Italian dinner you can meal prep ahead of time to save you time during busy weeknights without compromising on a delicious meal for the family.

8. Orzo Salad With Pesto

An overhead view of a white bowl filled with orzo pasta with pesto sacue.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This delicious orzo salad with pesto is great for lunches or light dinners. With garden vegetables, healthy fats, feta, and arugula, this dish is perfect for spring and summer days. Pack up any leftovers for lunch the next day because this will taste just as good as the day it was made.

9. Pumpkin Pasta

A female hand holding a fork picks up some Pumpkin Pasta out of a white bowl.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Creamy pumpkin pasta and your favorite cheeses combine for an irresistible pasta dish. This easy pumpkin pasta recipe is perfect for a hearty weeknight meal. You can use any winter squash you like best, it doesn’t have to be the American pumpkin. Butternut, acorn, and other such squashes will all work well here.

10. Vegan Pasta Puttanesca

An overhead view of a white pasta bowl with a wide rim. In the center sits a next of pasta puttanesca.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Pasta Puttanesca is a delicious vegetable-based meal that everyone will adore. This pasta dish might look unassuming, but it packs quite a flavorful punch. This Mediterranean dish is perfect for the weather that is warming up now, and it pairs well with just about anything you’d like to enjoy with it.

11. Tuscan Pasta Salad

A side view of a white bowl filled with Tuscan pasta salad.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This hearty and healthy Tuscan pasta salad celebrates the best flavors from the Tuscan region of Italy. It’s a quick and easy dinner that will fill your belly and keep your taste buds happy. It’s also versatile enough to add beans, vegetables, or cheeses to suit your taste. Meat lovers can add shredded chicken or some cut-up sausage for extra protein.

12. Garlicky Broccolini Pasta

Horizontal shot of this garlicky broccolini pasta recipe served in a white bowl.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

If you’re too busy to cook, make this garlicky broccolini pasta. It will be done in the time it takes to cook the pasta thanks to its minimal ingredient list. But don’t be deceived by the simplicity of this dish because the simple flavors are wonderful. This dish truly lets simple ingredients shine.

13. Olive Pasta

An overhead view of a white bowl filled with olive pasta.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

It doesn’t get any simpler than this. Olive pasta totally hits the spot when you’re craving a big bowl of pasta. You’ll only need five ingredients and 10 minutes of cooking time to make this simple, flavorful dish. You can add in some cooked meat if you wish, or serve this with some garlic bread and perhaps a green salad to round out the meal.

14. Taco Spaghetti

An overhead view of a skillet filled with Taco Spaghetti.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Taco spaghetti is a great pasta dish for shaking up your pasta routine. The process is just like making spaghetti, only you’ll be seasoning this like you would a taco. It’s amazingly delicious and will pair well with some garlic bread or a dinner roll. If you want veggies, you can toss in some veggies when you’re making the sauce or simply serve a green salad on the side.

15. Homemade Mac And Cheese

A spoon lifts mac and cheese out of a bowl.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Nothing beats homemade mac and cheese. With a few simple ingredients, you’ll have the creamiest, cheesiest mac you’ve ever had, and it won’t taste like mass-produced, boxed mac and cheese. You’ll actually taste all that real cheese and delicious seasoning, making this an unforgettable pasta night option.

More From The Gracious Pantry

A dutch oven with a cooked whole chicken topped with rosemary twigs.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Need more ideas for dinner? These can help. Chicken and turkey are very versatile foods that will help you create an unlimited number of dinners. Here are 118 ideas to get you started.

This originally appeared on The Gracious Pantry.

Author: Tiffany McCauley

Title: Food and Travel Journalist

Expertise: Food, cooking, travel


Tiffany McCauley is a nationally syndicated journalist and an award-winning cookbook author and food blogger. She has been featured on MSN, Huffington Post, Country Living Magazine, HealthLine, Redbook, and many more. Her food specialty is healthy comfort food recipes.

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