Penne Pasta Quattro Formaggi with Butternut Squash and Sage

Photo: Paige Green

The Pasta Casserole That Has It All
If you're going to make homemade mac 'n' cheese, we suggest this drop-dead delicious take on the traditional baked pasta. It combines a few different cheeses for deep flavor (check!), has something crunchy on top (check!) and a little something special inside (check!). There's a mix of fontina, blue cheese, pecorino Romano and Parmesan; bread crumbs seasoned with sage; and, cubes of sage-scented, roasted butternut squash for a colorful and tasty surprise.

Get the recipe: Penne Pasta Quattro Formaggi with Butternut Squash and Sage
Pasta with Corn, Mushrooms, Crispy Shallots and Crème Fraîche

Photo: Phyllis Grant

A Reason to Add More Crème Fraîche to Your Life
Thicker, richer and less tangy than sour cream, crème fraîche is great on just about anything. It's especially winning in pasta dishes, such as this one, that feature two veggies that go so well with cream: corn and mushrooms. This spaghetti supper also includes crispy shallots, a savory garlic puree and paper-thin wisps of Parmesan, which provide a sharp counterpoint to the rich sauce.

Get the recipe: Pasta with Corn, Mushrooms, Crispy Shallots and Crème Fraîche
Breakfast Pasta Frittata

Photo: Steve Giralt

A Brilliant Reinvention of Sad Leftovers
Just as frying rice turns the remnants of takeout into something brand new, this frittata transforms cooked spaghetti (or any other noodles) into a dish that you could seriously eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner. There's turkey breakfast sausage, red bell pepper and scallions in there, as well as a combination of grated cheddar and Grana Padano (similar to Parmesan); so, you get a pleasant mix of sweet, savory and salty.

Get the recipe: Breakfast Pasta Frittata
Crispy Cauliflower Pasta

Photo: William Meppem

A Glimpse into the Secret Life of Cauliflower
We had no idea cauliflower could be so crunchy, until we discovered this recipe. It has you put the raw vegetable (roughly chopped) into a food processor, along with a handful of pine nuts, and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped. Then, you sauté the mixture with oil and some seasonings for 15 minutes, until golden. Finally, toss these deep-brown crumbs with cooked pasta for a totally unique and delicious pasta.

Get the recipe: Crispy Cauliflower Pasta

Photo: Lynn Andriani

The One-Pot Meal That Redefines Simple
Even the most basic pasta dishes usually require two pots: one for the pasta, one for the sauce. Not this extraordinary recipe, though. It starts with you cooking garlic and onion in a large, heavy-bottomed pot; then you add diced tomatoes, chopped kale, basil...and a whole pound of pasta, along with four cups of water. Let the pot simmer until the pasta is done to your liking, fold in cheese and serve. No separate pasta pot and no draining required—it's a game-changer.

Get the recipe: One-Pot Pasta

Photo: LCStock2015/iStock/Thinkstock

A Healthy Pasta with a Totally Unexpected Ingredient
You'll swear there's heavy cream or, at least, a generous amount of cheese in this dish—but the thick and rich sauce actually gets its heft from avocado. The superfood also adds loads of nutrition (such as cholesterol-blocking good fat, potassium and folate). And if you're worried about it tasting like a bowl of guacamole-coated noodles, fear not: The other ingredients are basil, garlic, lemon and pine nuts, which give the plate a more Mediterranean than Mexican vibe.

Get the recipe: Creamy Avocado Pasta with Toasted Pine Nuts

Photo: Rachel Roddy

The Breezy, Laid-Back Roman Dinner
This much-loved vegetarian dish is common in Rome, but we envision it going over well just about anywhere, since it calls for just seven ingredients, comes together in less than 30 minutes and requires minimal chopping (plus, absolutely no slicing or dicing). It's basically just cauliflower or broccoli mixed with penne or rigatoni, but the magic is in the sauce, a result of slightly mashing the veggies in garlicky oil and combining them with the pasta-cooking water and (you guessed it) grated Parmesan or pecorino.

Get the recipe: Pasta e Broccoli (Pasta and Broccoli)

Photo: Lynn Andriani

A Nonsandwich Way to Eat Sausage and Peppers
Sweet Italian sausage and bright-red bell peppers are a natural match, and this vibrant dish shows how versatile the pairing can be. When you put them together with thinly sliced kale, pasta and a good amount of garlic, they become a hit-the-spot supper that rivals any sandwich you'll find at a street fair or backyard barbecue.

Get the recipe: Sausage and Peppers Pasta

Photo: Steve Giralt

A Unique Use for a Familiar Dried Fruit
Although golden raisins aren't common in pasta dishes, they add a touch of sweetness that can be especially delicious with bitter greens. This recipe incorporates the dried fruit with baby spinach leaves, ricotta, pine nuts and orange zest; it's an unusual medley of flavors and textures that totally works. For the pasta, you can use long, wavy mafalde, as well as fettuccine or another flat noodle.

Get the recipe: Mafalde with Spinach, Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins