Some of the world's most iconic dishes are built around noodles, from spaghetti with meatballs to pasta salad to creamy, gooey macaroni and cheese. If you're making pasta recipes using dried wheat-flour pasta (the default for most Italian dishes), it's important to follow some simple pasta cooking tips: Salt the water liberally (don't add oil, it will make the noodles repel sauce), cook the pasta just to al dente (nothing's worse than gummy pasta), and never, ever rinse after cooking: You want the starch on the pasta to act as a magnet for sauce. Pasta comes in many shapes, and not just to entertain the kids - each cut is perfectly suited to a purpose. Thin, delicate angel hair pasta (cappellini) is best dressed with a light sauce like tomato, garlic and olive oil, while the wide tubes of manicotti (cannelloni) work great for stuffing with ricotta. Penne (rigate) has ridges that are great for capturing hearty sauces, and corkscrew shape of fusilli is perfect suited for creamy cheese sauces.

Total: 40 mins

How to Make Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a no-brainer for potlucks or other occasions when you're asked to bring a course or side dish. It's simple to make, easy to transport, and can be prepared ahead of time. And since pasta salad lends itself so easily to ingredient substitutions or additions, creating a "signature" salad is a breeze.

How to Make Pasta Sauce

Jarred pasta sauces have come a long way, but, still, none of them hold a candle to homemade. If you've been relying on jarred stuff because you don't think you have the time or skills to learn how to make pasta sauce from scratch, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the recipe below.

Garden-Style Ravioli

Diabetic Living

Packaged light cheese ravioli not only cut the cooking time for this pasta recipe, they also help trim the fat and calories.

Total: 20 mins

Chicken and Soba Noodles

Family Circle

Soba noodles, hot sauce, ginger, and soy sauce give a spicy Asian touch to this chicken and broccoli main-dish recipe.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Family Circle

Diavolo is the Italian word for devil and refers to sauces seasoned with hot chiles. In this quick and easy recipe, the sauce is made with stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and red pepper flakes.

Ditalini with Chickpeas

Family Circle

Fun shaped pasta joins forces with turkey bacon and chickpeas in a spicy tomato sauce. This dinner recipe takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Reduced-Fat Mac

Family Circle

The cheese sauce for this classic recipe uses skim milk and 2 percent sharp cheddar cheese to make a low-fat meal in less than 30 minutes.

Easy Chicken Pasta

Diabetic Living
Total: 30 mins

Saute-and-Serve Pasta Toss

Better Homes and Gardens

Jarred sauce makes this sausage, vegetable, and pasta a quick dinner recipe.

Total: 25 mins

Pasta Carbonara

Family Circle

Turn the classic pasta dish into a low-fat recipe by using turkey bacon and fat-free half-and-half. Asparagus is a flavorful and healthy addition.

Warm Pasta Salad with Italian Turkey Sausage

Family Circle

Grilling the vegetables and sausage gives an outdoorsy smokiness to this main-dish salad.

Vegetable Gratin

Family Circle

This vegetable and pasta casserole dish includes penne pasta tossed with summer vegetables--eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes--and a tart goat cheese sauce.

Ravioli with Pesto

Family Circle

Broccoli and spinach pair up in this recipe to make a variation of traditional pesto served over ravioli for an easy pasta dinner in less than 30 minutes.

Smoky Mac & Cheese

Family Circle

Hickory-smoked bacon, mesquite flavoring, and smoked paprika add a triple dose of flavors to this macaroni and cheese recipe that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

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