Hooray, your weekly meal planning is almost finished. All that's left on your mind is one question: what to serve with pasta bake?
Pasta is a great way to quickly feed the whole family, but sometimes it's tough to decide on the perfect side dish—one that you haven't already eaten a million times. Wondering what is the perfect side dish? Here are some of the best sides to go along with tonight's easy dinner.
What sides go well with pasta
The best side dishes will complement your creamy pasta bake, but not overlap too many of the same, heavy textures. Sometimes, a really simple side dish is all you need to go along with a perfect pasta sauce.
However, a simple recipe doesn't have to be boring! By adding a little bit of savory flavor and great textures, you'll have a well-rounded, satisfying, and — most of all — delicious meal!
A note about what not to serve with pasta bake
In this post, we'll give you plenty of ideas for delicious side dishes that go really well with your easy pasta bake recipes. However, here are a few tips about what you shouldn't serve as pasta sides.
- Don't double up on meat. For example, if your pasta bake contains ground beef, don't serve sides that also have meat in them.
- Add some contrasting elements. If your baked pasta recipe uses a lot of heavy cream (like creamy garlic shells), avoid any side dishes that include a cheese sauce. Instead, opt for something lighter.
- Switch up the ingredients. Let's say that your pasta bake contains red sauce and mozzarella cheese. In that case, hold back from serving a tomato and cheese side dish, like Caprese.
- Play off of similar flavors. For instance, when serving a pesto pasta bake, garnish your delicious sides with fresh basil, since pesto is (usually) made from the very same herb.
Garlic bread, rolls, and breadsticks
Whether you're cooking up a creamy sauce, a quick jarred favorite, or an all-day simmered marinara sauce, there's nothing that pairs better with a main dish pasta than garlic bread!
- Air fryer garlic bread
- Soft buttery breadsticks (sprinkle with garlic powder for more flavor)
- Cheesy garlic bread with herbs
- Crostini rubbed with olive oil
- Easy yeast rolls for beginners
- Freezer dinner toasts
- Garlic-stuffed parmesan cheese bread (shown in photo above)
- Honey oatmeal dinner rolls
- Italian herb focaccia
- Multigrain rolls
- Pull-apart garlic bread
- Quick-prep dinner rolls
- Sourdough slices and butter
Serve rolls with your pasta bake and you'll barely even have to rinse the plates—they'll be wiped squeaky clean!
Crunchy salad recipes
Side salad goes with pasta like meatballs and tomato sauce! Starting with basic ingredients, there are so many different ways you can switch up a salad to make it complement your plate of pasta.
Plus, quick salads are not only easy to whip up, but the crunchy texture is a great addition to go alongside soft, tender pasta dishes. It's a match made in food heaven!
Here are some of my favorite side dishes to serve with pasta bake—salad edition, of course!
- Beet and goat cheese salad (or, you can use feta cheese!)
- Broccoli salad
- Caesar salad
- Caprese salad with balsamic vinegar (pick good, fresh tomatoes)
- Cobb salad (omit the chicken to make it a great side dish)
- Cucumber tomato salad
- Greek salad
- Green bean salad
- Green garden salad (use your own produce!)
- Green salad with fruit
- Fall harvest salad with butternut squash, persimmons, and red onion
- Italian salad with artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes
- Mediterranean chickpea salad
- Shaved brussels sprouts salad
- Southwest-style corn and bell peppers salad
- Summer salad with garden fresh cherry tomatoes
- Superfood kale salad
- Tomato and avocado salad
- Wedge salad
Next-level tips: add the dressing just before plating for an extra crunchy salad! And, if your pasta bake is extra creamy, consider serving it with a lighter dressing, like lemon juice and olive oil!
Vegetable side dishes
Seasonal vegetables are a staple in Italian cuisine, so it only makes sense that some of the best pasta side dishes are veggies! Cooked properly, even picky eaters will enjoy this collection of recipes:
- Artichokes (learn how to clean and steam them here)
- Bacon-wrapped asparagus
- Baked brussels sprouts
- Baked zucchini
- Cauliflower with parsley and olive oil
- Fried zucchini spears
- Green beans tossed with garlic and red peppers
- Green peas
- Grilled asparagus
- Haricots verts with shallots and lemon zest
- Pan-fried asparagus
- Pan-fried mushrooms with rosemary
- Pan-roasted vegetables in sauce (pictured above, this is such a great recipe!)
- Parmesan broccolini
- Roasted delicata squash
- Roasted broccoli with lemon
- Roasted green beans and carrots
- Roasted romanesco
- Steamed brussels sprouts
- Tri-colored carrots in butter
Hint: season your vegetable sides well so they can hold their own when served with a flavorful pasta bake. A bit of good sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper can turn a simple dish into a real crowd-pleaser.
What's for dessert
It's not a complete meal without dessert! Plus, whether served with a cheesy pasta bake or any other main course, sweets are always a welcome addition to my household!
- Apple crumble a la mode
- Banana split with hot fudge sauce
- Blueberry pie
- Butterscotch cookies with browned butter frosting
- Chocolate chip cookies
- Chocolate truffles
- Classic chocolate cake
- Cool Whip ice cream sandwich cake
- Deep-fried Oreos
- Homemade buckeyes
- Homemade fudge
- Ice cream sundae (don't forget sprinkles!)
- Jello poke cake
- Lemon bars with cream cheese frosting
- Lemon meringue pie
- M&M candy cookies
- No-bake pumpkin pie
- Oreo pie
- Peach cobbler
- Peanut butter oatmeal cookies
- Pecan shortbread cookies
- Rolo turtle pretzels (shown in the photo above)
- Strawberry cupcakes
Enjoy your pasta bake and the side you serve with it!
"What should I serve with pasta bake?" is only a difficult question because there are so many delicious options! The next time you make your favorite easy dish for dinner, try one of these new side recipes. Your family will love how they taste—and you'll love just how easy they are to make!