From bucatini carbonara to orecchiette with simple cherry tomato sauce, these delicious pasta dinner recipes are easy and quick, so they’re perfect for any weeknight meal.

At the harried dinner hour, simple pasta dishes are the name of the game. Below you will find a few of my weeknight go-to’s, namely one-pan baked ziti (a miracle!), pasta with simple cherry tomato sauce, and rotini with 10-minute butternut-sage sauce.

And while I love all 9 of the delicious pasta dinner recipes below, if you’re looking for a template you can tweak to your liking, I highly recommend the carbonara, which can be made with bacon or without and with any number of vegetables from asparagus to Swiss chard.

Happy Noodling, Friends.

PS: 18 Favorite Chicken Recipes

PPS: 12 Favorite Vegetarian Recipes

9 Favorite Pasta Dinners (Weeknight-ish)

1. Bucatini carbonara with leeks and lemon:

Bucatini carbonara with leeks and lemon:

2. Rotini with butternut-sage sauce — so good; from an old Gourmet

Rotini with butternut-sage sauce.

3. Orecchiette with brown butter, Swiss chard, and toasted walnuts.

Orecchiette with brown butter, Swiss chard, and toasted walnuts.

4. The New Basics Puttanesca: This one requires an hour of simmering, but the hardest part about the recipe is opening the many cans and boxes: anchovies, capers, crushed tomatoes, etc.

Pasta puttanesca on a plate.

5. My favorite carbonara recipe adapted to accommodate all of my CSA greens with the bacon omitted:

Pasta carbonara loaded with greens in a skillet.

6. One-Pan Baked Ziti

7. Not the famous Marcella Hazan tomato sauce — another one with white wine, parsley and garlic. Yum.

Pasta with sausage and homemade tomato sauce.

8. Pasta with Simple Cherry Tomato Sauce

A bowl of pasta tossed with cherry tomato sauce, pine nuts, basil and mozzarella.

The Instant Pot Miracle: One-Pot Pasta with Meat Sauce

The Instant Pot miracle: one pot spaghetti and meat sauce
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A bowl of bucatini carbonara.

9 Favorite Pasta Dinner Recipes: Bucatini Carbonara

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To clean leeks: Place the sliced leeks in a large bowl filled with cold water. Do this as the bacon cooks. After about 10 minutes, lift the leeks out of the bowl with your hands and transfer to a colander—this allows the dirt that has settled to the bottom of the bowl to stay settled. When transferring the leeks to the sauté pan, be sure the bacon fat isn’t super hot—remove the pan from the heat. It’s OK if the leeks are still wet—a little water clinging to the leeks is a good thing.



  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 leeks, white and light-green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, and rinsed (see notes above)
  • 1/2 pound bucatini or short pasta, such as campanelle, orecchiette, or gemelli 
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup (heaping) grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped (optional)


  1. Set a large pot of salted water (I use about a tablespoon of kosher salt) to boil. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain, leaving excess fat in pan—you should have about 2 tablespoons. Add leeks (see notes above), season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring often, until leeks are golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package instructions. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking liquid. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, parmesan, lemon zest and juice. Whisk ¼ cup pasta water into egg mixture. 
  3. Drain pasta and immediately add to egg mixture, along with bacon, leeks, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. If necessary, add more of the reserved pasta cooking liquid to taste. Sprinkle pasta with more cheese if desired and serve immediately.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian, American