If you are a pasta aficionado then the thought of serving it with the perfect side dish has become an obsession.
It’s hard to know what flavors will go best together, and there are so many choices out there that just deciding on one can be overwhelming. But fear not!
We have put together a comprehensive list of delicious 14 sides to pair with your favorite noodles for any occasion.
Read on as we provide all the kitchen confidence you need for tantalizing pasta pairings that prove to be absolute flavor perfection.
What to Serve with Pasta? 14 Sides to Try
1. Mushroom Risotto
Mushroom Risotto is a creamy and comforting dish that can be made with a variety of different mushrooms.
The most important part of this dish is to use fresh, in-season mushrooms for the best flavor.
This dish can be made with any type of mushroom, but some of the most common varieties used are shiitake, oyster, and cremini mushrooms.
The taste and texture of mushroom risotto is very rich and creamy.
The rice is cooked until it is tender and then combined with a flavorful mushroom broth.
The dish is then finished with a touch of cream or Parmesan cheese.
There are a few tips that will help you elevate your mushroom risotto dish.
First, make sure to cook the rice until it is al dente.
This will ensure that the rice still has a bit of bite to it and isn’t overcooked.
Second, don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of mushrooms.
Each variety of mushroom will have its own unique flavor that can enhance the overall dish.
Finally, finish the risotto with a touch of cream or Parmesan cheese for an extra level of richness.
2. Eggplant Parmesan
Eggplant Parmesan is a classic Italian dish that is usually made with breaded and fried eggplant slices that are then covered in tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.
This dish can be served as an appetizer or main course.
The eggplant Parmesan at your local Italian restaurant might be delicious, but it’s likely loaded with unhealthy fats and calories.
If you’re looking for a healthier version of this dish, try baked Eggplant Parmesan.
Baked eggplant still has a great taste and texture, but it’s not fried so it’s much healthier for you.
3. Caprese Salad
If you’re looking for a simple, yet tasty side dish to serve with your pasta, look no further than Caprese salad.
This dish is made with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil, and is drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
It’s the perfect combination of sweet, salty and acidic flavors that will compliment any pasta dish.
The best part about this salad is that it’s so easy to make.
Simply slice up some ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and some fresh basil leaves.
Season with salt and pepper, then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
You can also add in some other ingredients if you want, like red onions or Kalamata olives.
But the key to a good Caprese salad is to keep it simple.
One tip to elevate this dish even further is to use heirloom tomatoes.
They come in a variety of colors and have a much more intense flavor than regular tomatoes.
If you can find them at your local farmers market or grocery store, definitely give them a try.
4. Caesar Salad
There’s something about a Caesar salad that just screams ” Italian cuisine.
” Maybe it’s the creamy dressing, the crispy croutons, or the salty Parmesan cheese.
Or maybe it’s the fact that this dish is named after one of the most famous Italians in history: Julius Caesar.
Whatever the reason, a Caesar salad is the perfect side dish to serve with pasta.
The rich flavors of the dressing pair perfectly with the noodles, and the crunchy croutons add an interesting texture contrast.
Plus, who doesn’t love a little bit of cheese on their pasta?
If you’re looking to elevate your Caesar salad game, there are a few easy ways to do so.
First, try using a higher quality Parmesan cheese.
A good rule of thumb is to use a cheese that you would be happy eating on its own.
Second, ditch the store-bought croutons and make your own.
Homemade croutons are infinitely tastier than their store-bought counterparts.
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of lettuce.
A mix of Romaine and radicchio gives this classic salad a slight bitterness that takes it to the next level.
5. Sausage and Peppers
Sausage and peppers is a classic dish that can be enjoyed any time of year.
This dish is typically made with sweet Italian sausage, red peppers, and onions.
The sausage is cooked until it is browned and the veggies are softened.
This dish can be served as-is or over pasta, rice, or potatoes.
This dish is hearty and flavorful.
The sweetness of the sausage pairs well with the slight bitterness of the peppers.
The onions add a touch of sweetness and depth of flavor.
The dish can be spiced up with some crushed red pepper flakes or served mild.
There are a few tips to elevate this dish and make it even more enjoyable.
First, try roasting the vegetables before adding them to the pan with the sausage.
This will bring out their natural sweetness and make them even more tender.
Second, use good quality sausage.
Look for sausage that is made with all natural ingredients and has no fillers.
Third, if you want a little extra flavor, try adding some garlic to the pan when you cook the sausage.
6. Roasted Garlic Bread
If you’re looking for the perfect side dish to accompany your pasta dish, look no further than roasted garlic bread.
This dish is simple to make and can be easily customized to fit your taste.
Plus, who doesn’t love the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the kitchen?
When it comes to taste, roasted garlic bread is rich and savory with a hint of sweetness from the roasted garlic.
The texture is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside – just how we like our bread.
If you want to take this dish to the next level, try adding some cheese or herbs to the bread before baking.
- Use a good quality loaf of bread so that it doesn’t get too soggy when you add the toppings.
- Make sure the garlic is properly roasted before adding it to the bread. You don’t want it to be too raw or burnt.
- Allow the bread to cool slightly before serving so that all of the flavors can meld together.
7. Tomato Basil Soup
Tomato basil soup is a delicious and easy to make dish that can be enjoyed all year round.
The soup is made with tomatoes, basil, and other spices, and can be served with or without pasta.
The taste of tomato basil soup is both acidic and sweet, with a slight bitterness from the basil.
The texture of the soup is smooth and creamy, with a slightly thick consistency.
There are many ways to elevate this dish and make it even more enjoyable.
One way is to add some protein, such as chicken or shrimp.
Another way to change up the flavors is to add different herbs or spices, such as thyme or oregano.
Finally, serving the soup with a side of bread or grilled cheese is always a good idea.
8. Garlic Shrimp
Most people are familiar with garlic shrimp – succulent shrimp cooked in a fragrant garlic sauce.
But what they may not know is that this dish can be easily elevated to create a truly gourmet experience.
The key is to focus on the quality of the ingredients.
Choose wild-caught shrimp for their superior flavor, and use fresh garlic and herbs for the sauce.
You can also add a touch of heat with some crushed red pepper flakes.
For an extra special touch, serve the garlic shrimp over a bed of creamy polenta or risotto.
9. Chicken Marsala
Chicken Marsala is a classic Italian dish that is perfect for a romantic dinner or a family feast.
The dish is made with chicken breasts that are cooked in a Marsala wine and mushroom sauce.
The chicken is served with a side of pasta or potatoes.
The taste of Chicken Marsala is rich and savory, with the perfect amount of acidity from the Marsala wine.
The mushrooms add an earthy depth of flavor, while the chicken stays juicy and tender.
There are a few tips to elevate your Chicken Marsala dish.
First, make sure to use quality ingredients.
The better the quality of the wine and mushrooms, the better your dish will be.
Second, don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of mushrooms.
A mix of crimini, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms will give your dish an extra boost of flavor.
Finally, don’t forget to let the sauce simmer for a few minutes before serving so that all the flavors have time to meld together.
10. Baked Ziti
Baked ziti is a classic Italian dish that is simple to make and oh-so-delicious.
The dish is made with pasta, a tomato-based sauce, and cheese.
It’s then baked in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
The taste of baked ziti is savory and slightly sweet from the tomatoes.
The pasta is tender, and the sauce is rich and flavorful.
The cheese adds a creamy, salty element that takes the dish to the next level.
There are a few things you can do to elevate your baked ziti.
First, try using a high-quality tomato sauce.
This will make a big difference in the flavor of the dish.
Second, add some extra vegetables to the mix.
Sautéed mushrooms, onions, and peppers would be great additions.
Finally, top your baked ziti with fresh herbs before serving.
This will give it a nice pop of color and flavor.
Lasagna is a classic Italian dish that typically consists of layers of pasta, cheese, and meat.
The dish can be made with different types of pasta, including traditional lasagna noodles, as well as gluten-free and vegetarian options.
Cheese is a key ingredient in lasagna, providing both flavor and creaminess.
Common types of cheese used in lasagna include ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan.
Meat can also be added to the dish, though it is not required.
Vegetables can also be layered into the dish for additional flavor and nutrition.
Lasagna is known for its rich, hearty flavor and creamy texture.
The dish can be made ahead of time and reheated, making it a great option for busy weeknights or large gatherings.
Tips for elevating your lasagna include using fresh ingredients, layering in additional vegetables, and choosing high-quality cheese.
12. Prosciutto-wrapped Asparagus
If you’re looking for a delicious and easy side dish to serve with pasta, look no further than prosciutto-wrapped asparagus.
This dish is simple to make but packs a punch in terms of flavor and texture.
The salty prosciutto pairs perfectly with the slightly sweet and crunchy asparagus, making for a truly irresistible combination.
This dish can be served warm or at room temperature, making it perfect for a casual gathering or a more formal event.
It’s sure to be a hit no matter what.
13. Cheese and Cauliflower Breadsticks
These cheese and cauliflower breadsticks are the perfect side dish to any pasta meal.
They are packed with flavor and have a great texture.
The breadsticks are made with mozzarella cheese, which gives them a delicious taste.
The cauliflower in the breadsticks adds a great crunch.
To elevate this dish, you can add some herbs to the breadsticks.
Basil and oregano would be a great addition.
You can also top the breadsticks with some grated Parmesan cheese.
If you want a bit of spice, you can add some crushed red pepper flakes to the breadsticks before baking them.
14. Summer Panzanella
Summer Panzanella is a light and refreshing dish that is perfect for any summer gathering.
The dish is made with fresh bread, tomatoes, and cucumbers, and is typically served with a vinaigrette dressing.
One of the best things about summer Panzanella is its simplicity.
The dish is all about showcasing the freshness of summer produce.
The bread provides a hearty base, while the tomatoes and cucumbers add a pop of color and flavor.
The vinaigrette dressing ties everything together and adds a bit of acidity to balance out the sweetness of the tomatoes.
To elevate this dish, consider adding some fresh herbs or other seasonal vegetables.
You could also swap out the bread for another type of grain, such as quinoa or farro.
For a protein-packed option, add some grilled chicken or shrimp.
We hope you enjoyed learning about the 14 best side dishes to serve with pasta.
Pasta is a versatile dish that can be paired with a variety of flavors.
From light and refreshing salads to hearty and savory proteins, there’s a side dish for every taste.
Try out these recipes the next time you’re making pasta and let us know which one is your favorite.
What to Serve with Pasta? 14 Sides to Try
- 1. Mushroom Risotto
- 2. Eggplant Parmesan
- 3. Caprese Salad
- 4. Caesar Salad
- 5. Sausage and Peppers
- 6. Roasted Garlic Bread
- 7. Tomato Basil Soup
- 8. Garlic Shrimp
- 9. Chicken Marsala
- 10. Baked Ziti
- 11. Lasagna
- 12. Prosciutto-wrapped Asparagus
- 13. Cheese and Cauliflower Breadsticks
- 14. Summer Panzanella
- Select your favorite sides from the list above.
- Prepare the side dish according to the recipe instructions.
- If you’re short on time, some of these can be made ahead of time and reheated before serving.
- Serve and enjoy!
Carrie is a food writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience. She has worked for some of the biggest names in the food industry, including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Martha Stewart Living.
As the Editor in Chief of IntroChicago.com, Carrie oversees all of the content on the site. She also manages the team of contributing writers and editors, who help to create delicious recipes, helpful tips, and informative articles that you’ll find on the site.
A native of the Chicago area, Carrie is passionate about all things food. She loves trying new restaurants and experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen. She’s also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, so she knows a thing or two about food!