Whether you’re drowning it in marinara or tossing it with a drizzle of olive oil, there’s one thing we can all agree on: Pasta is extremely delicious. What goes with spaghetti? Here are 36 side dishes that will make tonight’s dinner even better.
1. Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Chicken
Is there anything as comforting as a piping-hot chicken parmigiana? Didn't think so. This one is baked instead of fried and stuffed with mozzarella, Parmesan and sautéed spinach. It all gets topped with homemade tomato sauce before going in the oven. Serve over pasta and voila.
2. Spring Panzanella Salad
Panzanella is an Italian salad made with hunks of bread (not croutons!). And that's definitely our kind of salad. Start dinner with a crisp mix of asparagus, peas, watercress, scallions and mushrooms. Toast the bread in the oven before topping it all off with tangy mint-mustard dressing.
3. Cacio E Pepe Brussels Sprouts
Pepper + cheese = magic. These green gems are roasted in butter, olive oil and Pecorino Romano. Have your sprouts on the side or live a little and mix it right into the spaghetti. Extra pepper, please.
4. Zucchini and Tomato Ragu
Think of this dish as a deconstructed ratatouille. Start by sautéing zucchini and summer squash until golden and al dente, then rip up hunks of mozzarella (the recipe calls for four ounces, but it'll be our little secret if you double it). Pour some over your spaghetti and top it off with a runny egg.
5. Kale Salad with Persimmons, Crispy Chickpeas and Shallots
We can hear the applause already. This salad's got it all: crunch from roasted chickpeas and shallots, sweetness from dried apricots and persimmons, acid from the lemon-Dijon dressing and freshness from raw kale. Save some for lunch tomorrow and enjoy it as a side with one-pot tomato basil pasta.
6. 20-Minute Burrata Salad with Stone Fruit and Asparagus
We've been known to demolish a cushy ball (or two) of burrata in our day. Now it's your turn. Tons of crispy greens serve as a fresh base for juicy peaches and plums. Pair with spaghetti dressed in garlic and olive oil.
7. Rainbow Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta
Set this vibrant platter on the patio table to wow guests and kids alike. As pretty as these multicolored tomatoes look on the plate, they're most definitely worth devouring. Wait until you try them on a bed of creamy seasoned ricotta. Best part? The whole plate can be ready to serve in 15 minutes.
8. Chopped Italian Salad Pizza
Salad on pizza is a compromise we can get behind. Store-bought dough makes this a cinch to put together, but no one would guess after biting into warm ricotta, crisp microgreens and sweet-and-spicy pepperoncini. You find the TV remote, we'll bring the wine.
9. Perfect Meatballs with Cherry Tomato Sauce
While there are tons of sides that go with spaghetti, meatballs are without a doubt the OG. The secret to these? A combo of beef and pork. They're also mixed with next-level seasonings (hello, pine nuts and red-pepper flakes) before going for a swim in from-scratch tomato sauce.
10. Italian Bruschetta Bar
Part appetizer, part work of art. If cheeseboards are your happy place, this one's for you. Round up some friends, grill up slices of crusty bread and go to town on everything from prosciutto to sun-dried tomatoes to herb-cheese spread. This is totally customizable, but we'd never get rid of the olive tapenade and tiny cornichon pickles. Just sayin'.
11. Gluten-Free Cheese and Cauliflower Breadsticks
Breadsticks can do no wrong, even when they're made of cauliflower. Yup, these are totally gluten-free and teeming with mozzarella and Parmesan. There's nothing cauliflower can't do. Heat up some marinara sauce for dipping and keep the healthy theme going with a steaming bowl of butternut squash carbonara.
12. Eggplant Pizza
Gluten-free, low-carb and seriously addictive. The kids will love assembling their own mini pies, and you'll love saving precious chill time by substituting pizza dough for eggplant (slicing > kneading, right?). Best part? These cuties come together in less than an hour.
13. Tomato Salad with Grilled Halloumi and Herbs
Tomatoes are truly spaghetti's best friend. First, fire up the grill for hunks of salty halloumi cheese. Once they're toasty with a nice char, place them atop lemony seasoned tomato rounds. Finish it off with torn basil and your favorite summer playlist.
14. Caprese Salad with Grilled Zucchini
What is it about caprese salad that never gets old? The trifecta of tomatoes, basil and mozz probably has something to do with it. We’ll give you two more reasons by adding grilled zucchini and a drizzle of balsamic. We love to pair this app with one-pan spaghetti and meatballs.
15. Asparagus Caesar Salad
So. Much. Crunch. While our recipe for homemade Caesar dressing is pretty darn authentic (right down to the mashed anchovies), this inventive salad doesn't call for a single leaf of lettuce. Instead, we substitute blanched asparagus. Add a handful of croutons and a shocking amount of Parmesan shavings before settling in on the couch.
16. Stuffed Eggplant
All this veggie wants to do is live its best life, and that can be kind of hard when it's always drowned in tomato sauce and mozz. Consider this eggplant's big day. They're hollowed out before getting stuffed and roasted with quinoa, kale and garlicky mushrooms. It's also a dreamy pair for pasta limone.
17. Whole Roasted Carrots
What's with our compulsion to cut carrots into teeny-tiny piece? They're gorgeous whole, especially roasted until smoky-brown in red-wine vinegar, cumin, salt and pepper. A squirt of lemon and a few mint leaves give it a note of brightness, perfect for dinner at dusk in the yard.
18. Cucumber Salad
Tzatziki is super jealous of this dish. The citrusy yogurt vinaigrette, complete with garlic, lemon, olive oil and za'atar, offers cool relief between bites of sharp red onion and grassy fresh dill. Add some olives and serve with lemon spaghetti for a Mediterranean twist.
19. Family-Style Chicken Caesar Salad
Now that's a salad. It's a breeze to make, but boasts some bold savory flavors. Melissa Coleman swaps anchovies for olives and Worcestershire to make a jaw-dropping creamy dressing with lots of Parmesan. Just wait until you try the homemade lemon-pepper croutons.
20. Homemade Pepperoni Pizza Rolls
These were invented for all of us who can't help but drip pizza grease on our shirts every time we have a slice. You don't have to sweat the mess or the time with these rolls: They'll be ready in less than an hour. You can thank us later.
21. Mediterranean Roasted Artichokes
Well, aren’t you fancy? These are bound to impress at both backyard parties and family dinners, and pack a serious tangy punch. The little pockets of salty feta and the garlic-dill vinaigrette may just be the best parts, though. And since you'll be roasting the artichokes in foil pouches, that means you'll have a few less dishes to clean. It's the little things.
22. Eggplant Parm Casserole
One layer of breaded eggplant just doesn't cut it for us. So, we pile up fried eggplant slices, marinara sauce and mozzarella in a casserole dish until it's full and bake instead. Enter bubbly, melty heaven. Just add spaghetti and garlic bread.
23. Herb-Crusted Pork Cutlets
Getting tired of chicken? This is a job for the other white meat. Bread crumbs and fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme and oregano do all the heavy lifting in the breading, which turns golden brown after a few minutes in hot olive oil. Finish them with flaky salt and serve over spaghetti.
24. Cherry Tomato Galette with Garlic and Herbs
We see a garden party in your future. And in that vision, your guests are speechless over this crispy galette packed with blistered tomatoes, garlic, herbs and Parmesan. Roast the tomatoes the night before and snag some store-bought puff pastry to save some time. We love it with salad, grilled chicken and pasta.
25. Coconut Creamed Spinach
How do we love thee, coconut milk? Let us count the ways. At the top of our list is this healthy spin on creamed spinach, which calls for simmering coconut milk until thick instead of using real cream. Add-ins like curry powder and smoked paprika give it a warm heat you'll never get tired of. Try it alongside spicy shrimp over spaghetti or with teriyaki salmon.
26. Garlic Bread
Boy are the kids going to be psyched to see this on the table. They'll be even more ecstatic when they take their first bite, bursting with garlic-infused olive oil and buttery-cheesy goodness. We're warm and fuzzy just thinking about it.
27. Vegan Arancini
If you've never had arancini before (aka cheesy Italian rice balls), you've been missing out big time. These are made with risotto, panko bread crumbs and, surprise, plant-based mozzarella. The little ones won't know the difference, we promise.
28. Chrissy Teigen's Cheesy Chicken Milanese
One thing we love about chicken cutlets is that there are a million ways to tackle them. One of our favorite ways is Milanese-style, meaning the chicken is pounded thin, dredged in eggs and seasoned breadcrumbs and fried. With some shaved Parmesan and a drizzle of balsamic, it sounds like a win to us.
29. Cheesy Pesto Chips
Sometimes all pasta really needs is an amazing sauce. And other times, that sauce needs to be served in zucchini chip-form. This starts off with macadamia nut pesto, which comes together so fast in the food processor. Then, it's spread over the chips and baked until golden. We see your spaghetti smiling from here.
30. Sheet Pan Lemon Pepper Shrimp
Calling all scampi fans. There are a million ways to have shrimp (you saw Forrest Gump), and a million more ways to have shrimp with spaghetti. Tonight, try one of the easiest ways: doused in lemon, olive oil and freshly-cracked pepper. And because it's a sheet pan recipe, there's next to no cleanup. Chill the pinot grigio, stat.
31. Crispy Mushrooms
When mushrooms are this crunchy, it's a game changer. Cremini mushrooms are first tossed in sherry vinegar and EVOO before roasting until brown and crisp. With a few flakes of salt and parsley, you're in business. Crumble them over pasta on the deck or pop them like pretzels on the sofa.
32. Cauliflower, Olive, Pepper and Caper Salad
In Italy, this salad is called insalata di rinforzo. Capers, olives and anchovies give it vinegary, funky umami that you'll be craving again before you know it. It's usually served on Christmas Eve in Naples, so flick on the twinkle lights and get festive. Any excuse for a party, right?
33. Potato-Chip Crusted Chicken with Arugula Pesto
You had us at potato chip. The hazelnut-arugula pesto is equal parts peppery and nutty. The chicken is super golden and crunchy, aside from its gooey mozzarella topper. All that's missing is pasta and a nightcap.
34. Brussels Sprouts Skillet with Crispy Pancetta-Garlic Bread Crumbs
We love crispy sprouts just as much as the next guy, but it's just no fun waiting for them to brown. Enter the handy-dandy skillet. It'll only take about eight minutes to wrap this up in the pan. If you like your veggies extra crunchy, we hear ya. That's why we seasoned and toasted panko bread crumbs and crisped up pancetta for a finishing touch. You're welcome.
35. Cauliflower with Roasted Tomatoes, Parsley and Bread Crumbs
Roasted tomatoes give this dish an extra dose of sweet moisture, while pitted olives work wonders in the acid department. But our fave part of this side is the garlic bread crumbs, toasted until oh-so-fragrant and golden brown.
36. Pizza with Butternut Squash Sauce
Enough with the marinara. Half a butternut squash carries this pie, roasted with herbs and garlic before being blended into a sauce. Did we mention there are *two* types of cheese under all that black pepper and sage? Yeah, we'll preheat the oven.