Easy dinner recipes: Three great pasta dishes that come together in only 25 minutes

If you’re looking for a fast yet filling dish, pasta is always a great option. The noodles act as a blank canvas, ready to work with almost any flavor combinations you wish to add, whether rich sausage and broccoli, fresh herbs or a creamy sauce studded with bits of cheese. Or use these recipes as inspiration and create your own dish.

Pasta with Italian sausage and broccoli: This recipe, from Food editor Russ Parsons, is a simple combination of broccoli, fresh Italian sausage and dried pasta. Serve with a shaving of pecorino Romano.

Angel hair pasta with fresh shiso-herb mix: A wonderfully aromatic herb with a bit of a bite, shiso is part of the mint and basil family. For a bright and simple dish, pair shiso with fresh lemon zest, parsley, chives and basil and toss with angel hair pasta. Serve the dish on its own for a vegetarian option, or top with a grilled fillet of salmon or other fish.


Pennette with pistachios and Gorgonzola: Get a pot of water going on the stove, and cook the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, throw together a quick cream sauce with leeks and chunks of Gorgonzola cheese. Toss in coarsely chopped pistachios for extra crunch and color, and toss with the pasta. The whole dish comes together in minutes.

You can find the recipes below.

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Total time: 25 minutes | Serves 6

1 head broccoli (about 3/4 pound)
2 links fresh Italian sausage ( 1/4 to 1/2 pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound dried short pasta, such as fusilli, penne, or ziti; or long dried pasta such as spaghetti
Salt, pepper
1 ounce pecorino Romano cheese

1. Bring a large pot of liberally salted water to a boil. While the water is heating, clean the broccoli: Separate the florets from the stems and set them aside. Remove the tough peel of the stems with a paring knife or vegetable peeler, then cut the stems into half-inch cubes. Remove the casings from the sausage.

2. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat and crumble the sausage meat into the oil, flattening each piece slightly so it will brown better. Cook until the sausage browns and crisps. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic turns pale brown, about 5 minutes. Do not let the garlic scorch; if it begins to brown, remove the pan from the heat.

3. Add the pasta and the diced broccoli stems to the boiling water and cook 6 to 7 minutes. Add the broccoli florets and cook until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes total. Scoop out the pasta and broccoli and drain; keep the water at a boil.

4. Place the skillet over high heat and add the drained broccoli and pasta to the sausage and garlic. Add one-half cup boiling water from the pasta pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the water mostly boils away, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and a good grinding of black pepper.

5. Divide the pasta evenly among 6 warmed pasta plates and shave pecorino Romano over the top with a vegetable peeler.

Each serving: 406 calories; 15 grams protein; 62 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 11 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 12 mg. cholesterol; 263 mg. sodium.


Total time: 25 minutes | Serves 4

Note: From Donna Deane. Serve this pasta with grilled fillet of salmon or other fish.

4 ounces angel hair pasta
1 tablespoon best-quality olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup loosely packed torn shiso leaves
1/3 cup snipped chives (1/2-inch pieces)
1/3 cup loosely packed torn parsley leaves
1/3 cup loosely packed torn basil leaves

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil (the water should be as salty as the sea). Add the pasta and cook just to al dente, about 3 minutes, or according to package directions.

2. Drain the pasta in a colander, reserving one-half cup of the cooking liquid. Place the pasta in a large serving bowl. Toss the pasta with the olive oil, lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Add the shiso, chives, parsley and basil and toss to distribute evenly. Add the cooking liquid to moisten the pasta as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 142 calories; 4 grams protein; 22 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 4 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 6 mg. sodium.


Total time: 25 minutes | Serves 8

Coarse sea salt
3/4 pound pennette pasta
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks, white part only, washed well and very thinly sliced
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 ounces Gorgonzola, cut into pieces
1/2 cup shelled salted pistachios, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground white pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook the pennette according to the package directions until al dente.

2. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and a dash of sea salt and cook, stirring, until very soft, about 4 minutes. Add the cream and heat to a simmer.

3. Drain the cooked pasta well in a colander and immediately turn it out into the skillet with the leek mixture. Add the Gorgonzola and toss until coated. Add the pistachios and salt and pepper to taste. Continue stirring until well mixed. Serve at once, with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, if desired.

Each serving: 386 calories; 13 grams protein; 38 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 21 grams fat; 11 grams saturated fat; 59 mg. cholesterol; 261 mg. sodium.