25 Easy Side Dishes to Pair with Your Pasta Dinner

updated Feb 10, 2021
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Credit: Shelly Westerhausen/Kitchn

Truly, pasta doesn’t need much to make it a crowd favorite at the dinner table. Grab a bowl and a fork and you’re pretty much all set. However, it never hurts to add a salad or cooked vegetable to the situation to make the whole meal feel a bit more, well, whole.

Serving up pasta for dinner is actually a golden opportunity to get some extra vegetables on the table. And as for the very best pasta side dishes, know that the options are vast. Since pasta is so versatile, what you can serve with it is equally so. A refreshing salad or sautéed greens are just a couple of great sides that are always welcome next to your spaghetti or your ziti. These 25 simple recipes pair well with just about any pasta you’re cooking and come together just as easily.

Crisp and Crunchy Salads

A big green salad is a classic pasta side dish. Something as simple as arugula tossed with lemon juice and olive oil is a great choice, as is a traditional Caesar. Or forgo the greens altogether and opt for a crisp cucumber or juicy tomato salad.

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Jersey Salad
This colorful green garden salad is inspired by the produce-packed Jersey salad at Delancey in Seattle.
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2 / 10
The New Spring Mix
Forget those pre-mixed bags in the produce aisle, this simple DIY blend is colorful and way more flavorful.
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3 / 10
The Ultimate Classic Caesar Salad
You simply cannot beat a really great Caesar salad. Here's how to make the whole thing at home.
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4 / 10
Simple Arugula Salad
This quick and easy, unfussy arugula salad tossed in a lemon vinaigrette and finished with shaved Parmesan.
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5 / 10
Lemony Green Salad with Radicchio & Pepitas
This is the salad we whip up while dinner is on the stove. It’s refreshing with rich meals, lemony and tart, with the crunch of pepitas.
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6 / 10
Tangy Cucumber Salad
Keep this light, fresh salad of quick-pickled cucumbers and chopped fresh chives on standby for when you want a side that's especially quick and easy.
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7 / 10
Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad
Nothing against romaine, but Brussels sprouts give it some healthy competition when it comes to which base is best for Caesar salad.
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8 / 10
Tomato Salad
This simple salad, made with thinly-sliced red onions, fresh herbs, and a drizzle of oil and vinegar, lets juicy summer tomatoes shine.
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9 / 10
Vegetarian Italian Chopped Salad
This make-ahead friendly salad is packed with crunchy veggies and tossed in a garlicky oregano vinaigrette. Eat as-is or serve alongside pizza.
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10 / 10
Ottolenghi's Cauliflower, Pomegranate, and Pistachio Salad
This warm, herb-heavy salad treats you to cauliflower three different ways from the Ottolenghi SIMPLE cookbook.
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Warm Salads

What you pair with pasta doesn’t always have to be served cold. A salad made warm by tossing it in a heated dressing or roasting the vegetables is an unexpected twist we love leaning into.

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Spinach Salad with Warm Brown Butter Dressing
The warm brown butter dressing will keep you coming back for more.
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2 / 7
Roasted Eggplant Salad with Smoked Almonds & Goat Cheese
Tossed with chopped almonds, goat cheese, parsley, and a touch of lemon, this salad is comforting yet still fresh and light.
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3 / 7
The Ultimate Grilled Zucchini Salad
Zucchini is grilled until smoky, then tossed with a lemon vinaigrette, feta, and mint.
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4 / 7
Kale with Apples, Currants, and Warm Pancetta Vinaigrette
The warmth of this vinaigrette softens the kale and adds a richness to this hearty salad.
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5 / 7
Quick and Easy Roasted Vegetable Salad
This warm roasted veggie salad could be a meal on its own, but also works great as a side.
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6 / 7
Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Chickpeas, Feta, and Herbs
If you adore roasted cauliflower, this is a salad you've got to try.
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7 / 7
Warm Golden Beet Salad with Greens and Almonds
This warm, toothsome beet salad is loaded with spicy greens, a bit of pungent goat cheese, and toasty almonds.
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Other Satisfying Cooked Sides

Or simply serve a platter of cooked veggies. Whether it’s sautéed spinach, braised kale, or roasted asparagus, it’s a wholesome addition to the table.

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Stovetop Spinach
All you need is spinach, a pan, and a pair of tongs for the fastest way to cook spinach.
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2 / 8
5-Minute Blistered Tomatoes and Capers
Heat reveals the sweetness of tomatoes, opening them up for new flavors. This quick and easy side dish is sure to wow your palate.
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3 / 8
Easy 10-Minute Garlic Broccolini
This easy recipe for sautéed Broccolini with garlic and red pepper flakes that's the perfect weeknight side dish.
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4 / 8
Braised Fennel and Shallots with Parsley and Orange Zest
To braise vegetables gives them their proper due, and it’s the perfect treatment for all kinds of spring produce — especially wedges of sweet fennel.
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5 / 8
Slow Cooked Kale
We like a quick side-dish as much as the next guy, but we still love long-cooked kale for the way its flavor deepens and its ruffly edges crisp.
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6 / 8
Lemon-Pepper Asparagus
This simple side dish is just as much about the tender roasted asparagus as it is about the burnished lemon slices that are tossed in the mix.
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7 / 8
Sautéed Brussels Sprouts
These perfect Brussels sprouts have a little bit of char and are perfectly crisp-tender: cooked all the way through with a little crunch remaining.
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8 / 8
Blistered Green Beans with Pickled Shallots and Toasted Breadcrumbs
Fresh green beans are stir-fried until blistered, then tossed with tangy pickled shallots and topped with crunchy, salty breadcrumbs.
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