Pasta is a family favorite in my household. When we have pasta for dinner, everyone comes running, excited to eat a meal they love. 

Even though I cook pasta a couple nights every week nowadays, it didn’t always come easy to me. When I first started cooking pasta, it was a struggle. My noodles used to come out mushy and bland –– not appetizing at all. 

Over time, I learned the tricks to master the art of pasta cooking. If you are striving to prepare the perfect pasta that your whole family will enjoy, here are my secrets:

Use a large pot. You want to give the pasta plenty of space to move around in, so aim to cook it in a 8-or-12 quart stockpot.

Use lots of water when boiling your pasta. You should have five or six quarts of water for a standard 16 oz. pack of noodles. When it comes to water, t’s better to put more than less.

Salt your pasta water. As my Italian neighbor told me, “It [pasta water] should be as salty as the sea.” Add about 2 tablespoons of salt for every six quarts of water.

Bring the water to a full boil. Don’t just let your water simmer –– make sure it boils so the pasta can fully cook.

Stir the pasta when it’s boiling. To prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan, make sure to stir every couple of minutes or so when the pasta boils.

Save some pasta water. Pasta water is full of starch and it helps thin down thick sauces, so it can coat the noodles.

Cook your pasta al dente. Al dente means the pasta should have sort of a bite to it, neither mushy or hard. It’s better to undercook your pasta than overcook it, as you can always soften your pasta with warm sauce (it still cooks a bit in the sauce right when it comes out of the boiling water).

Now that you know how to perfect your pasta, here are some delicious pasta dishes to try, which your whole family will enjoy!

Spinach Mushroom Pasta


–        ½ cup of sliced mushrooms

–        ½ cup of spinach

–        Half box of cooked spaghetti

–        ½ cup of cubed butter

–        ¾ cup of parmesan cheese

–        1/2 teaspoon of salt

–        ½ teaspoon of pepper

–        ½ cup of heavy cream

–        4 basil leaves for garnish


  1. Gather your ingredients.
  2. Wash your sliced mushrooms and spinach carefully in a bowl and set it aside.
  3. Heat your butter and heavy whipping cream in a large skillet on high and stir accordingly until the butter is melted.
  4. Simply lower the heat and allow your mixture to simmer until it thickens. (Continue to stir.)
  5. Remove your skillet from your stove and add your parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir to make sure all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  6. Afterwards, place your skillet back on the stove on low and add your cooked spaghetti.
  7. Lastly, add your spinach and sliced mushroom in your pasta mixture. Stir everything together.
  8. Garnish with basil and enjoy!

Vegetable Marinara Pasta


–        1 ounce of tomato paste

–        1 tablespoon of olive oil

–        1.5 teaspoons of minced garlic

–        ½ teaspoon of ground pepper

–        1 ½ teaspoon of salt

–        1 large green bell pepper chopped

–        1 cup of chopped broccoli

–        1 carrot sliced

–        1 cup of spinach

–        Half a box of cooked fettuccine

–        Grated parmesan cheese for garnish


1.     Gather your ingredients. Wash all your vegetables.

2.     In a large skillet, saute the olive oil and garlic on medium heat.

3.     Then, in the skillet, add in your tomato paste and gently stir until well incorporated.

4.     Turn your heat on low and fold your cooked pasta in the sauce mixture.

5.      Afterwards, add in your salt and pepper and mix well.

6.     Turn the stove back on medium and add in your bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, and spinach. Mix well, making sure all the vegetables are combined in the pasta.

7.     Serve the pasta on a plate and garnish with grated parmesan cheese.

8.     Enjoy!

Pesto Pasta


–        Half a box of cooked linguine pasta

–        4 cups of fresh basil leaves

–        ¼ cup of parsley

–        A pinch of salt and pepper

–        ½ of olive oil (extra virgin)

–        2 garlic cloves

–        1.5 cups of parmesan cheese

–        1 cup of pine nuts

–        1 tablespoon of lemon juic 


1.     Place your parsley, garlic, and basil, in a blender or food processor for about 30 seconds until the basil is chopped.

2.     Then, add your pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Blend for 30 seconds until your mixture is chopped and merged. (Save some parmesan cheese for garnish)

3.     After that, mix lemon juice and olive oil into your mixture and blend.

4.     Turn off your food processor and fold in your salt and pepper in the pesto.

5.     Gather a skillet and turn your stove on medium heat. Add your pasta and pesto sauce.

6.     Stir the pasta with the pesto sauce and allow it to heat up. (Don’t increase or decrease the stove temperature.)

7.     After your pasta has heated up, pour it into a bowl and garnish with leftover grated parmesan cheese.

8.     Enjoy!

Vegan Mac and Cheese with Broccoli


–        ½ cup of cashews

–        A drizzle of olive oil

–        1 teaspoon of onion powder

–        ⅓ teaspoon of black pepper

–        ½ tablespoon lemon juice

–        ¾ teaspoon of salt

–        1 peeled and chopped potato

–        1 peeled and chopped carrot

–        ½ of any vegan milk of your choice

–        3 cloves of garlic

–        ½ cup of sliced onion

–        4 tablespoons of yeast powder

–        1.5 tablespoons of tapioca powder

–        ½ cup of vegetable broth

–        12 ounces of cooked macaroni pasta

–        3 pinches of crushed pepper flakes

–        2 cups of broccoli


  1. Fill a pot with water and set it on the stove to boil. While boiling, soak the cashews in the water for about 15-20 mins or until they are soft enough to be blended.
  2. Wash your potatoes and carrots and set it aside.
  3. Bring another pot and add water and salt. Bring the pot to a boil. Then add your chopped carrots and potatoes to it.
  4. Gather a skillet on medium and drizzle a bit of olive oil in it. Saute your onion and garlic.
  5. After sauteed, add the onion and garlic in a blender along with the cashews, onion powder, black pepper, lemon juice, salt, vegan milk of your choice, yeast powder, tapioca powder, vegetable broth, and crushed pepper flakes. Blend until it becomes a smooth and consistent texture.
  6. Add your cheese sauce to a saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Keep stirring to avoid it from burning.
  7. Add your cooked pasta and broccoli. (Make sure to wash your broccoli well before adding it in!)
  8. Stir the mixture together and make sure everything is combined well.
  9. Enjoy!

Rigatoni with Tomatoes


–        3 cubed and washed tomatoes

–        1 sliced and washed onion

–        3 minced garlic cloves

–        1 tablespoon of olive oil

–        2 cups of cooked rigatoni pasta

–        2 tablespoons of butter

–        1 cup of heavy cream

–        ¾ teaspoon of salt

–        ⅛ teaspoon of pepper

–        ½ cup of pasta water

–        ½ cup of toasted walnuts

–        ⅓ cup of parmesan cheese


  1. Place your tomatoes and onions on a large baking pan. Then drizzle the olive oil, and coat the tomatoes and onions. Then, sprinkle the salt and pepper on top of it. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes until the onions are golden brown. Keep the pan in the oven to cool with the temperature off.
  2. Grab a saucepan and melt your butter. Once melted, stir in your heavy cream and pasta water until well incorporated.
  3. Add in your cooked rigatoni to the sauce mixture and stir well.
  4. Lastly, add in the baked tomatoes and onions along with the almonds and fold them all in well.
  5. Garnish with the parmesan cheese and enjoy!
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About Anika Nayak

Anika Nayak is a freelance journalist from Tampa, Florida specializing in health and wellness. Her work has appeared in ArchDigest, Business Insider, Elite Daily, HuffPost, Insider and many more.

View all posts by Anika Nayak