Spaghetti is a beloved family dinner classic for good reason—it’s budget-friendly, easy to make, and appeals to kids and adults alike. But serving up a basic bowl of noodles and red sauce can get boring after a while.
Luckily, spaghetti also provides the perfect canvas to create a full Italian-style feast! With so many tasty sides to choose from, you can transform any pasta night into an exciting culinary adventure.
In this article, we’ll explore 15 delicious side dishes to elevate your spaghetti to new heights. Let’s get started!
Why Pair Sides with Spaghetti?
There are several good reasons to serve side dishes alongside your spaghetti:
Adds flavor variety – Spaghetti on its own can be one-note. Sides provide contrasting flavors.
Provides texture – Noodles lack crunch and texture. Sides like salads and roasted veggies add crispness.
Makes it a complete meal – Pairing protein-rich sides helps make it a filling, balanced dinner.
Brings color to the plate – Vibrant sides make for a more visually appealing presentation.
Keeps meals interesting – Rotating side pairings makes spaghetti dinners feel fresh and exciting.
Thoughtfully chosen sides can really take your spaghetti from basic to spectacular. Now let’s look at 15 of the tastiest options!
1. Garlic Bread
Warm, crunchy garlic bread is the quintessential match for spaghetti. Take it up a notch by brushing the bread with herbed butter or olive oil before broiling or baking.
For easy garlic bread, slice a loaf of Italian or French bread in half horizontally. Mix softened butter with minced garlic, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper, then spread it over the bread halves. Broil 3-5 minutes until golden and serve immediately.
Bruschetta makes an easy Italian-inspired starter or side. Grill or toast bread slices, then top with a mixture of chopped tomatoes, basil, olive oil, balsamic glaze, and salt and pepper to taste.
For a heartier bruschetta, add mozzarella cheese, sautéed mushrooms, or white beans. Serve your bruschetta creations alongside the spaghetti.
What’s better than spaghetti and meatballs? The combo is so classic for a reason. Make your meatballs with a blend of ground beef and pork plus Italian flavors like parsley, garlic, and Parmesan.
Baked meatballs are a hands-off option. For the perfect texture, pan-fry meatballs first then finish cooking them in the sauce. Simmering in the sauce infuses the meatballs with flavor.
4. Garden Salad
A simple garden salad is a fool-proof pairing for any pasta dish. Use a mix of lettuces as the base then pile on sliced cucumbers, baby tomatoes, peppers, shredded carrots, and red onion.
Make it an Italian salad by adding olives, pepperoncinis, and mozzarella pearls. Drizzle your favorite Italian dressing for a flavor boost.
5. Roasted Vegetables
Roasting is a great way to add flavor to vegetables. Try roasting broccoli, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, eggplant, or cauliflower and toss with Italian seasoning.
For maximum caramelization, coat veggies in olive oil and roast at 400°F, stirring halfway through. Roasted veggies pair wonderfully with pasta.
6. Caprese Salad
A caprese salad with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil is a perfect pasta side. Alternate slices of tomato and mozzarella on a platter. Top with olive oil, balsamic reduction, salt, pepper, and torn basil leaves.
For variety, use a mix of heirloom tomatoes or add avocado. You can also swap in pesto for a flavor twist.
Breaded and baked eggplant or zucchini cutlets make a lighter, vegetarian alternative to traditional meatballs. Coat slices in breadcrumbs or panko, then bake until crisp.
For extra flavor, spread cutlets with ricotta cheese mixed with herbs before breading. Pair the crispy veggie “meatballs” with your pasta.
8. Sautéed Spinach
Sautéed spinach is a quick, healthy side that balances the carbs of pasta. Sauté spinach in olive oil with garlic and red pepper flakes. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.
For a creamy spinach, stir in a splash of heavy cream at the end. Wilted spinach pairs nicely next to a tangle of spaghetti.
9. Roasted Cauliflower
Cauliflower roasts up nicely with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. For Italian flavors, add minced garlic, rosemary, and Parmesan cheese.
Other good roasted veggie options include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and asparagus. Any roasted veggie makes an ideal pasta side.
10. Green Salad with Vinaigrette
A crisp green salad in a light vinaigrette brightens up any pasta meal. Make a simple olive oil and balsamic dressing or lemon vinaigrette. Toss salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and fresh herbs.
For variety, use arugula, endive, radicchio, or bibb lettuce instead of regular greens. Sprinkle shaved Parmesan over the finished salad.
11. Grilled Vegetables
If the weather’s nice, fire up the grill! Grilled veggies like zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and asparagus pair fantastically with pasta. Brush vegetables with herbed olive oil before grilling.
For added flavor, grill lemon halves or Italian sausages at the same time. Grilled veggies add appetizing charred bits and smoky notes to your pasta dinner.
12. Tomato and Cucumber Salad
This simple Italian salad combines juicy ripe tomatoes with crunchy cucumber and onion. Toss together sliced tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil, and salt and pepper. Let marinate at least 30 minutes before serving.
For variety, add mozzarella or swap in different vinegars like red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar.
Warm, crispy breadsticks are a tasty alternative to garlic bread. The long, thin breadsticks are tailor-made for dipping into pasta sauce.
Brush breadsticks with olive oil and Italian seasoning before baking. Or for cheesy breadsticks, coat in Parmesan before cooking. Serve breadsticks alongside your pasta.
14. Panzanella Salad
This Italian bread salad is a creative way to use up day-old bread alongside pasta. Cut crusty bread into cubes and toast until crisp. Toss with tomatoes, cucumber, basil, and a red wine vinaigrette.
Let the salad sit 20 minutes so the bread absorbs the flavors. Garnish with mozzarella or additional fresh vegetables if desired.
15. Sausage and Peppers
For a heartier pairing, quickly sauté Italian sausage with bell peppers and onion. Add minced garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes for an extra flavor punch.
The cooked sausage and vegetables pair wonderfully with pasta. To make it a meal, toss the sausage and peppers with the spaghetti!
Make Pasta Night More Exciting
Armed with these tasty side dish ideas, you’ll never have a boring spaghetti dinner again! From salads to garlic bread, roasted veggies, and more, the possibilities for pairing with pasta are endless.
Use the sides to add color, crunch, flavor, and nutrients to balance your plate. Flip through your favorite cookbooks or online recipes and get creative with unique pasta accompaniments.
Soon your family will look forward to a new and exciting Italian pasta feast every week. Just remember—well-chosen sides have the power to uplift an everyday bowl of spaghetti into a memorable dining experience.
So embrace variety and have fun playing with different side dish combinations. Before you know it, spaghetti night will become the most beloved family food tradition!