What to Serve with Pasta: 41 Sides for Pasta

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In need of delicious side dishes for pasta? Find the perfect side dish for your pasta recipes and get cooking!

Pasta is one of the most versatile dishes on the planet today. From warm, comforting dishes to sophisticated inventions, pasta spans a whole spectrum of tastes!

In fact, it’s so easy to get lost in making delicious pasta and find yourself without a side dish to serve. So, what do you do if you find yourself in that situation? You consult this list!

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sides for pasta

What Are Good Sides for Pasta

Try pairing creamy pastas with a light vegetable side to balance out any heaviness. If you’re serving a light summer pasta dish, stick with a similar side to carry the theme over.

Similarly, if you’re serving a heavier pasta dish in winter or fall, a root vegetable side dish or bread dish is a perfect choice.

Healthy Sides for Pasta

We’re starting off with healthy side dishes, and I, for one, love this category. While pasta dishes are delicious, they can be a little rich.

So it’s great to have a good balance on the table with these healthy recipes.

1. Jamaican Steamed Cabbage

Jamaican Steamed Cabbage

Source: recipesfromapantry.com

You only need six ingredients to pull this side together. That’s great when making a side because you don’t want to divert too much attention away from your main dish!

This spicy and sweet side would pair beautifully with a summer pasta dish.

2. Smothered Green Beans

Smothered Green Beans

Source: budgetdelicious.com

Next up is a tasty and earthy but simple side dish that’s perfect for serving up with a winter pasta dish. These smothered green beans live up to the name!

They’re covered in a creamy garlic sauce that soaks into the beans, filling them with flavor.

3. Cucumber Tomato Salad

Cucumber Tomato Salad

Source: recipesfromapantry.com

Here’s a simple recipe! A cucumber tomato salad that would perfectly accent a pesto pasta dish. Packed full of juicy and crispy vegetables, this salad is sure to satisfy everyone at the table.

Serve it with your main course and enjoy an easy dinner.

4. Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pistachios and Pecorino

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pistachios and Pecorino

Source: littleferrarokitchen.com

Pistachios, pecorino cheese, and shaved brussels sprouts. All of these ingredients add up to an elegant side dish you could easily find in your local Italian restaurant.

The good news is, it’s super simple to bring that sophistication to your very own dinner table.

5. Marinated Tomatoes

Marinated Tomatoes

Source: budgetdelicious.com

Anyone can make this cold and zesty salad in five minutes or less. It highlights the juicy tomatoes’ flavor beautifully, allowing the sweetness to shine through with every bite.

Serve this up alongside a summery pasta dish. I highly recommend serving it with a basil pesto dish, as the tomato and basil will blend into an Italian flavor sensation.

6. Watermelon Feta Basil Salad

Watermelon Feta Basil Salad

Source: saltandbaker.com

Creamy feta and juicy watermelon combine to form an unforgettable dish. The slight saltiness of the feta cheese offsets the sweetness of the watermelon in the most beautiful way.

The basil adds a final touch of brightness that will have you coming back for more.

7. Tossed Green Salad

Tossed Green Salad

Source: littlesunnykitchen.com

This simple tossed green salad relies on great ingredients and simple methods. In essence, it’s a base of leafy greens with a red onion kick.

If you want to go 100% Italian, good olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt is the way to go. The richness of the oil deepens the salad’s flavor, making simple greens utterly scrumptious.

8. Air Fryer Mushrooms

Air Fryer Mushrooms

Source: culinaryshades.com

Here’s a quick and easy dish that celebrates the down-to-earth, hearty flavor of mushrooms. All you need is an air-fryer and about five minutes of hands-on cooking time. Simple!

I was skeptical about air-frying mushrooms at first, but now I’m never going back. With just some oil and soy sauce, these mushrooms transform into well-roasted packages of pure delight.

9. Avocado Orange Salad

Avocado Orange Salad

Source: joyousapron.com

Avocado and orange isn’t a flavor combination you hear about a lot, but I think that’s criminal.

The creaminess of the avocado and the sweetness of the orange is a heavenly duo that makes for a popular dish!

10. Sauteed Arugula with Red Bell Peppers

Sauteed Arugula with Red Bell Peppers

Source: cookingchatfood.com

Arugula and bell peppers are both packed full of nutrients. They also happen to be very tasty together!

By sauteing the arugula, you break down some of those proteins and let the flavor out. The same applies to those gorgeous red peppers. Doesn’t the green and red remind you of the Italian flag?

11. Roasted Beets

Roasted Beets

Source: alittleandalot.com

These roasted beets are the ultimate example of how good simplicity can be. You only need three ingredients, they’re so easy to make, but they taste amazing!!

To make this recipe the best it can be, you’ll want to use fresh beetroot. This is a lovely side dish for pork chops.

12. Marinated Tomato Salad

Marinated Tomato Salad

Source: therusticfoodie.com

This marinated tomato salad celebrates the color and sweetness of red and yellow heirloom tomatoes. The mozzarella mixed through the salad elevates it even further.

If you’re looking for a truly Italian side dish that also happens to be healthy, this is the recipe for you.

13. Mediterranean Kale Salad

Mediterranean Kale Salad

Source: thehealthyepicurean.com

If we’re talking about healthy side dishes for pasta, you can’t go past kale. This leafy superfood is packed full of enriching antioxidants and fiber to improve your dinner’s nutritional value.

The olives and feta peppered throughout this salad give it a delicious Mediterranean vibe.

14. Festive Winter Salad

Festive Winter Salad

Source: twokooksinthekitchen.com

Making pasta to celebrate a holiday this winter? I’d highly recommend this festive winter salad for a side.

Take fifteen minutes to assemble this delicious study in red and green. Tart pomegranate and crispy pear play off the ricotta and leafy greens, creating a symphony of textures and flavors.

15. Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Source: veronikaskitchen.com

Roasted cherry tomatoes are one of my favorite side dishes to prepare for Italian food. The roasting process condenses the tomatoes’ flavor, making them taste even better.

All you have to do is coat them in olive oil, season with salt and herbs, then bake low and slow.

16. Air Fryer Cauliflower

Air Fryer Cauliflower

Source: nourishplate.com

This is another healthy side dish that’s so quick and convenient that you’ll almost feel like you’re cheating. It’s crispy, tasty, and almost like eating takeout (but much healthier)!

Using an air fryer means you can set the cauliflower to fry and leave it be.

17. Vegan Sweet Potato, Lima Bean Salad

Vegan Sweet Potato, Lima Bean Salad

Source: nutriciously.com

Sweet potato, arugula, bell peppers, and red onion. What do all of these ingredients have in common? They’re delicious together! That’s why this side salad is both healthy and scrumptious.

Paired with your main pasta dish, this salad offers a variety of textures and tastes that keep each bite interesting.

18. Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Source: saltandbaker.com

The Caprese salad is a tried-and-true Italian side dish.

This particular version uses grilled cherry tomatoes and grilled mozzarella pearls. Grilling the ingredients adds a little smokiness, which in turn brings out more sweetness in each bite.

You could also easily serve this side dish with steak.

19. Sauteed Zucchini with Herbed Parmesan

Sauteed Zucchini with Herbed Parmesan

Source: maesmenu.com

Next up is a light side dish that embraces some truly delicious flavors. This is a great one to whip out in the warmer seasons. It adds a wonderful pop of color to the table, plus it’s super healthy!

Not to mention, making this dish requires minimal hands-on work. All you need is a knife and pan to bring this summery delight to life.

20. Roasted Broccolini Salad with Crispy White Beans

Roasted Broccolini Salad with Crispy White Beans

Source: midwesternhomelife.com

The final dish in the healthy section of our list is a festival of earthy flavor, perfect for serving in winter or fall. This could easily anchor a dish on its own, but it’s a great side to tasty pasta too.

The walnuts, crispy white beans, and tahini are all wonderful accents to our roasted broccolini. The different textures make every bite unique and delicious.

Best Sides for Pasta

The truth is, the best pasta sides are easy to make but also taste awesome.

Usually, the best side dish comes with an easy recipe, takes minimal effort but has maximum flavor. Each one of the dishes to come delivers on this promise. So, let’s crack into it.

21. Avocado Fries

Avocado Fries

Source: urbanfarmie.com

Avocado fries? Yes, you read that right. These avocado fries are tender but crispy, combining the best aspects of two of the world’s favorite things.

You only need five ingredients to get these fries going, including the spice mix.

22. Zucchini Fries

Zucchini Fries

Source: midlifehealthyliving.com

Next in the genre of unexpected fries… zucchini! Zucchini are the ideal healthy fry substitute because of their beautiful taste and texture. They take well to spice and go crunchy so easily.

I love serving zucchini fries with a good aioli since the flavors blend together so well.

23. Maple Mustard Brussels Sprouts

Maple Mustard Brussels Sprouts

Source: carmyy.com

These maple mustard brussels sprouts are sweet and earthy, with a lovely char on the outside. You should be able to find everything you need for this recipe just hiding in your pantry.

Serving up a spaghetti carbonara? Top your sprouts with some bacon. Bolognese? Cover your sprouts in parmesan cheese. The options are limitless!

24. Focaccia Genovese

Focaccia Genovese

Source: marcellinaincucina.com

Focaccia Genovese is a thin and crispy bread dotted with tasty green olives.

If you’re serving up saucy or soupy pasta, this bread will be the perfect companion. Dip at your leisure and enjoy the crunchy saltiness this bread will add to your main dish.

25. Creamy Vegan Coleslaw

Creamy Vegan Coleslaw

Source: veganhuggs.com

Whether you’re vegan or not, this vegan coleslaw is guaranteed to light up your dinner table. It’s lighter than your standard coleslaw, thanks to a lack of mayonnaise.

But it’s still ringing with enough flavor to make you want to dig in. Creamy, tangy, and crunchy, this coleslaw checks all the boxes.

26. Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

Source: simplesidedishes.com

I mean, this recipe has bacon in it. Need I say more?

These bacon-wrapped green beans are a lesson in contrasting flavors. The freshness of the beans bumps up beautifully against the salty, fatty bacon. It’s an insanely good combination.

27. Air Fryer Crack Green Beans

Air Fryer Crack Green Beans

Source: airfryeryum.com

While these green beans don’t come in bundles, they still come with bacon. That makes them perfect in my book. If you have an air fryer in your arsenal, you’ve got to try this side dish.

Even if you don’t have an air fryer, this dish will come together beautifully in the oven. Once you serve this up, try shaving some high-quality parmesan cheese over the top.

28. Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions

Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions

Source: chefjar.com

Mushrooms and onions are a match made in heaven. When they’re sauteed together, the sweetness of the onion blends seamlessly with the earthy flavor of the mushroom.

Served with winter pasta, this side dish will kick the whole meal up a couple of notches.

29. Burrata Salad

Burrata Salad

Source: joyfoodsunshine.com

Burrata cheese is a delight in and of itself. It’s a type of delicious mozzarella cheese stuffed with stracciatella, another kind of creamy cheese.

That’s where the salad comes in! Bursting with color and refreshing flavor, the salad around the burrata helps bring it back down to earth.

Feel free to also serve this salad with one of your favorite griddle meals.

30. Roasted Asparagus Caesar Salad

Roasted Asparagus Caesar Salad

Source: salads4lunch.com

The classic Caesar salad uses either romaine or cos lettuce as the base. However, this is a modern take on the salad that offers a more robust side dish.

Using asparagus instead of lettuce lends this salad a lot of bright, summery flavors. There’s also an extra layer of crunch in there that makes this a delight to eat.

31. Crusty Rosemary Olive Bread

Crusty Rosemary Olive Bread

Source: livingsweetmoments.com

Every good pasta dish needs bread to dip in the sauce. I submit: this crusty rosemary olive bread!

With olives and rosemary speckled throughout, this bread is a fragrant treat that’ll bring the neighborhood running.

32. Caprese Flatbread

Caprese Flatbread

Source: slenderkitchen.com

This Caprese flatbread is a bold choice that’s ideal for a summertime lunch.

A Caprese dish is made up of three key pieces: tomato, basil, and mozzarella. These are the three flavor-packed ingredients adorning this tasty flatbread.

Italian Sides for Pasta

Pasta hails from Italy, so it only makes sense to serve up an Italian side dish to round out your meal. So when you pair them with a pasta dish, you can usually be sure they go together.

Find some of the best pasta side dishes that will be a great addition to any Italian-themed dinner.

33. Roasted Garlic and Herb Focaccia

Roasted Garlic and Herb Focaccia

Source: littleferrarokitchen.com

First on our list of easy pasta side dishes is an old classic that I’ve already mentioned: focaccia.

The thing I love about focaccia is how easy it is to customize. This recipe takes you through a roasted garlic and herb variation, but you can easily dress that up with some more vegetables.

34. Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Source: littlesunnykitchen.com

This Caesar salad recipe honors the salad’s roots, bringing together three key ingredients: lettuce, croutons, and a creamy dressing.

In my humble opinion, the best part of this recipe is the garlic croutons. Made with day-old bread, this crispy delights are packed with a rich garlic flavor that catapults off the dish.

35. Pesto Garlic Bread

Pesto Garlic Bread

Source: beyondthechickencoop.com

Next up, we’ve got garlic bread with a herb-packed twist. Both pesto and garlic bread are staples in Italian cuisine, so it makes sense to bring them together this way.

The rich and vibrant green pesto really highlights the buttery garlic flavor from the bread.

36. Mozzarella Caprese Salad

Mozzarella Caprese Salad

Source: brooklynactivemama.com

A good Caprese salad is chunky, bold and full of flavor. By that definition, this salad is excellent. Big rounds of scrumptious mozzarella are offset by sweet tomato, balsamic, and some bright basil.

This is an essential entry in the Italian recipe book. That means it’s going to easily match up with any pasta dish you’d like to serve.

37. Italian Chopped Salad

Italian Chopped Salad

Source: swirlsofflavor.com

This salad recipe was originally invented to serve as an antipasto, not a side dish. That said, it would go perfectly with a pasta dish. It’s full of elements that promise bold, fresh flavors.

If you’re headed to a potluck where you know there’ll be pasta, bring this along! It’s perfect for serving to large groups or with multiple main meals.

38. Italian Green Salad with Homemade Dressing

Italian Green Salad with Homemade Dressing

Source: cookingwithmammac.com

The flavors hiding beneath the surface will have you coming back for a bite over and over again.

The key to making this salad sing lies in choosing the right leaves. Standard iceberg lettuce doesn’t have a lot of flavors or nutritional value. Rather opt for spinach or butter lettuce for a robust salad.

39. Cheesy Garlic Bread

Cheesy Garlic Bread

Source: hungryhealthyhappy.com

Who doesn’t love a cheesy garlic bread? Cheese makes everything better (at least that’s how I feel). The mellow garlic infuses its flavor into the cheese, so every bite is perfectly balanced.

The best part? The crunch. You’ve got to let this bread bake long enough to get a lovely golden color. That’s when you know every bite will sound – and feel – like heaven.

40. Roasted Red Pepper Antipasto Salad and Crostini

Roasted Red Pepper Antipasto Salad and Crostini

Source: christinascucina.com

Raw bell peppers are sweet and crunchy, the perfect summery vegetable. But when you roast them, they turn smoky, and their flavor deepens into something made for the cold seasons.

I love this roasted red pepper antipasto dish. It heroes a single vegetable and does it well. It allows us to enjoy the unique flavor of these roasted peppers.

41. Marinated Italian Fresh Green Bean Salad

Marinated Italian Fresh Green Bean Salad

Source: therusticfoodie.com

The final dish on our list is a fresh, delicious green bean salad. With red, white, and green elements in this salad, it’s proudly waving the Italian flag.

The slivered almonds offer a lovely crunch with every bite. Meanwhile, the juicy tomatoes sing with a freshness that keeps you coming back for more.

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