9 Things You Never Thought to Add To Pasta

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These creative toppings will take your noodles to new heights

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Forget pasta with red sauce; these creative pasta toppings are delicious and easy to make.

9 Things You Never Thought to Add To Pasta

Thinkstock

Forget pasta with red sauce; these creative pasta toppings are delicious and easy to make.

Avocado

Avocado makes an amazingly creamy pasta sauce — no milk, cream, or cheese needed. It’s perfect for anyone trying to eat more heart-healthy fats or cut down on dairy products. This recipe for spaghetti with avocado sauce uses a combination of vegetable broth, leeks, avocado, and lemon juice to create a simple and delicious pasta sauce.

Chili

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If you love a hearty spaghetti Bolognese, you’ll love “Cincinnati-Style chili” — a.k.a. chili-topped spaghetti. Though the traditional version uses a variety of spices in the chili itself, you can feel free to make the chili to your liking; it will still be delicious!
 

Coconut Milk

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There are a number of wonderful coconut milk-based dishes served over rice or rice noodles, so why not top wheat-based pasta with a savory coconut sauce? An easy way to incorporate coconut milk into savory cooking is to make a curry. You can curry just about anything, then serve it on top of al dente noodles for a unique and flavorful pasta dish.
 

Feta Cheese

Tangy feta cheese pairs really well with a number of other ingredients (including a classic combination often eaten with pasta — tomato and basil), so it’s a great way to add lots of delicious and salty flavor to your pasta. Try topping pasta with feta and olive oil, or use feta instead of Parmigiano-Reggiano. 

Lemon

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Whether you juice it, zest it, slice it, or preserve it, lemon can really wake up an otherwise boring pasta dish. Try grilling the lemons before squeezing their juices for a sweet-and-smoky flavor, or use them in a simple 15-minute mushroom pasta.
 

Soy Sauce

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Give your pasta extra umami by adding a dash of soy sauce. Better yet, make an Asian-inspired pasta dish by mixing soy sauce with stock or broth, a pinch of red pepper flakes for heat, and a drizzle of honey or orange juice for sweetness. When the sauce thickens slightly, toss it with the noodles, a mix of vegetables, and thinly sliced meat. Too much cooking? Serve last night’s stir-fry over your pasta instead.

Strawberries

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We know what you’re thinking — we’ve missed the mark on this one — but trust us, this sweet and savory pasta dish is not one to be missed. Just toss freshly cut strawberries with al dente pasta and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. Other delicious add-ins include thinly sliced red onions, a chiffonade of basil, or small pieces of fresh mozzarella cheese.

Toasted, Buttered Breadcrumbs

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Make the easiest (and quite possibly the most delicious) pasta topping ever by melting butter in a pan and then toasting breadcrumbs in the butter over medium heat. When the breadcrumbs are brown and crispy, sprinkle them over any pasta for an instant pasta upgrade.

Yogurt

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Plain yogurt makes a great substitute for milk or heavy cream in pasta sauce, adding a welcome tanginess. Try tossing pasta in a mixture of tomato sauce and yogurt for a quick mock vodka sauce, or simply mix yogurt with some of the pasta cooking water and fresh herbs for an easy, creamy sauce.