While a high-quality bottle of olive oil can carry a hefty price tag, investing in a beautiful and pure variety will allow you to make quick and simple pastas that are not only delicious, but require minimal ingredients. Because a true olive oil demands less heat and cook time, it’s the ideal solution to whip up an impressive dinner. No matter where in the Mediterranean it was produced, choose an extra-virgin olive oil that carries fruity notes and has a peppery finish. Then, use it in one of these five satisfying sauces.
1. Caramelized Mushroom Sauce
Cook ribbon cut pasta, such as tagliatelle, in a large pot of well-salted boiling water. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chopped, mixed mushrooms to the dry pan and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms have released their moisture and are golden-brown. Reduce heat to medium. Generously drizzle mushrooms with extra-virgin olive oil. Stir in a thinly sliced garlic clove and continue cooking until garlic is soft. Add pasta, then freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley. Toss until pasta is well coated.
Get the recipe for Wild Mushroom Fettuccini with Spruce Tip Pesto
2. Fresh Breadcrumb Pasta
Cook long-cut pasta, such as bucatini, in a large pot of well-salted, boiling water. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high. Add fresh breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted. Transfer to a plate. Generously drizzle extra-virgin olive oil into same pan and set over medium heat. Add three thinly sliced shallots and cook, stirring often, until soft. Stir in roughly chopped green olives and fresh thyme leaves until warmed through. Add pasta and breadcrumbs. Toss until well coated.
3. Classic Parmesan Sauce
Cook short-cut pasta, such as penne, in a large pot of well-salted boiling water. Reserve a splash of cooking water. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, then two minced garlic cloves. Cook, stirring often, until garlic is soft. Add pasta, along with a large handful of grated Parmesan cheese and reserved cooking water, tossing until mixture is creamy. Season generously with freshly cracked black pepper.
Get the recipe for Vegetarian Cauliflower Puttanesca
4. Capers and Basil Pasta
Cook decorative-cut pasta, such as orecchiette, in a large pot of well-salted boiling water. Heat a large frying pan over medium-low. Add a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, then two finely chopped anchovies. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant. Stir in a handful of chopped, drained capers and continue cooking until slightly crisp. Add pasta, then freshly chopped basil. Toss until pasta is well coated.
Get the recipe for 15-Minute Gluten-Free Tabbouleh Pasta Salad
5. Sundried Tomato Pesto
Cook short-cut pasta, such as rigatoni, in a large pot of well-salted boiling water. Add oil-packed sundried tomatoes, drained, with toasted slivered almonds, one garlic clove and a handful of grated Parmesan to a food processor until finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly pour extra-virgin olive oil until mixture is smooth. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Toss with pasta.
Looking for more delicious recipes? See here for our best-ever pasta recipes for easy dinners.
Published February 12, 2016, Updated April 2, 2021