When it comes to winning over a crowd at a dinner party, pasta is our go-to. Not only is it easy to make in big batches, it’s also incredible versatile — noodles become a vehicle for all kinds of sauces, from light and loose to meaty and hearty.
Invite your friends over this weekend for a pasta party, featuring different shapes, sauces and accompaniments. We have all the recipes you need to pull it off, plus tips for getting everyone involved.
Serve a variety of pastas to satisfy everyone’s tastes. Simple spaghetti tossed in arugula pesto gives classic basil pesto a peppery twist, and it’s great for vegetarians. Penne with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil is light and fresh for summer, while pappardelle with bolognese makes a heartier dish. A baked pasta, such as this white lasagna with mushrooms and prosciutto, offers another distinctive style of pasta.
Keep dessert quick and easy. Cut slices of fresh fruit alongside soft or aged cheeses and honey or balsamic, as in this dish starring goat cheese and strawberries. Alternatively, light, wafer-style cookies with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream satisfy a sweet tooth without feeling too heavy. Check out these no-cook desserts for more ideas.
Make it a potluck party! Ask friends to bring one of their favorite pasta dishes or sides, making sure each one is different (extruded and strand pastas, and sauces with different weights and textures). For the best results, have them make sauces ahead and cook the pasta once the party starts.
Another way to get people involved is to make fresh pasta. Mix a batch of fresh dough, pull out a pasta maker, and create an activity by rolling and cutting it together. You can even make flavored pastas, like this fresh spinach version.
To serve, set the pastas on a buffet or table with the salad, sides and breads. You can also include small bowls of additional toppings: fried sage leaves, breadcrumbs, chopped herbs, red pepper flakes and cheeses.
Pass around a big wedge of Parmesan cheese to grate at the table — it’s a great way to start the conversation and keep a casual vibe.
- 1 to 2 days ahead: Make pesto and bolognese sauce. Make and assemble lasagna and refrigerate overnight.
- Day of: Prep vegetables and toppings for pastas. Assemble the antipasto platter.
- Just before serving: Cook and finish pastas. Make the salad. Warm bread or flatbread. Assemble the dessert.