Side Dishes for Spaghetti: 13 Choices to Inspire Your Pasta
Spaghetti is the perfect blank canvas for whatever you want it to be.
Are you just looking for a quick meal between class and work? Spaghetti with jarred sauce is the perfect antidote for those hunger pangs.
Are you looking for the perfect date night dish? Hello, spicy puttanesca!
Craving substantial and juicy pieces of meat piled high above that mountain of luxurious pasta? Spaghetti and meatballs to the rescue!
This classic pasta really is one of the most versatile foods. Whether soaking up a tomatoey red sauce or bathing in olive oil, butter, and garlic, spaghetti truly is a hero on the plate.
It plays match maker for diverse flavors and textures.
That rich red sauce is brightened up with a handful of chopped parsley and salty parmesan – and spaghetti is the vehicle that brought everyone to the party.
Spaghetti is the skillful diplomat that taught the warring flavor factions to live in peace.
Spaghetti is the main Italian dish that would like to teach the world to sing.
But once we’ve balanced all the tastes and aromas in our main dish, how should we pick our side dishes for spaghetti?
Think complementary and contrasting textures, like a crunchy salad or oiled and lightly charred baguette.
Another great place to start is thinking about the flavors in your sauce. Rich red sauces like contrasts, like green veggies or crunchy breads.
What to Serve with Spaghetti: Our Tasty List of Sides
Since spaghetti plays well with so many flavors it can also play well with many side dishes.
There are many ways to choose sides for spaghetti. Read on for some great places to start.
1. TOMATO CUCUMBER FETA SALAD
When it comes to what goes well with spaghetti, we like a little color and a lot of flavor.
And this salad fits the bill.
The tomatoes in the sauce are married with a tomato salad that’s loaded with deliciousness and texture.
Hello, salty feta! Hello, crisp cucumber! Let’s all hang out in the bowl with red wine vinegar dressing and earthy oregano.
The compare and contrast between flavors and textures helps to make this the perfect light summer meal.
That is what your plate of pasta is begging for. Light fresh textures that elevate the pasta and make it shine even more brightly.
Spoon it up and watch the spaghetti light up with joy.
Grab Cathy’s recipe from Lemon Tree Dwelling here: lemontreedwelling.com
2. LEMON ARUGULA SALAD WITH PINE NUTS
We think that elegant simplicity is the best simplicity. So, we wanted a salad that brings the goods. Something light, fresh, and bursting forth with color and texture. We’re a little demanding.
Or you could say, we know what we like.
And we found it. Peppery arugula topped with nuts, tomatoes, and two types of parmesan makes this a pretty plate that’s loaded with flavor.
Bonus: The garlicy dressing makes it a killer side for pasta.
Grab Julia’s stunning recipe here at A Cedar Spoon: acedarspoon.com
3. PEA SALAD
We love a simple parmesan and garlic spaghetti. It’s the perfect comfort food. It’s inexpensive, filling, and fits like a flannel shirt on a cool evening.
And what goes better with parmesan and pasta than peas?
Little lovely legumes round out many a meal – and work perfectly with this cheese-forward plate of pasta.
So, we were thrilled when we stumbled across this recipe. It’s effortlessly creamy, tangy, and smoky – which makes it the perfect combination with the pasta.
Check out Christin’s recipe at Spicy Southern Kitchen: spicysouthernkitchen.com
4. PULL-APART GARLIC BREAD
We love a good easy peasy garlic bread. Just give us some buttery bread product loaded with lightly pungent garlic and we’re happy as a clam.
Seriously. We clap our hands and giggle.
We do love bread.
So, when we went looking for a good garlic bread this recipe caught our eye. Pull-apart bread is like opening a brightly wrapped birthday gift when you suspect you know what you’re going to get.
“Yes! Thanks Auntie!”
Grab Bee’s amazing recipe at Rasamalaysia, and prepare to have your garlic shrimp spaghetti sit up and take notice: rasamalaysia.com
5. SAUTEED LEMON GREEN BEANS
There’s just something magical about a plate of perfectly cooked green beans. And when you pair them with a serving platter filled to the brim with creamy chicken mushroom spaghetti – well – the magic gets heightened to stratospheric heights.
And of course, the only thing that could be better would be if the green beans were coated in a sweet, tart, and creamy lemon butter.
We have a winner!
Check out this super simple recipe for sautéed lemon green beans from Thrillbilly Gourmet below.
6. BEST GRILLED VEGETABLES WITH GARLIC TOAST
When twirling a good n’ hearty meat sauce on spaghetti with a fork, what would be a fun thing to have hanging out on the plate with it?
How about a bevy of roasted veggies with lightly charred garlic toast?
Well, that sounds nosh worthy!
That’s what we thought when we ran across this recipe. We love it, and it’s one of our favorite side dishes for spaghetti.
Colorful zucchini, bell peppers, and mushrooms surrounded by garlic toasts?
Oh, yeah. Definitely nosh worthy!
Grab Jessica’s super enticing recipe over at How Sweet Eats: howsweeteats.com
7. PARMESAN ZUCCHINI
We love, love, love a good Bolognese. A rich and slow cooked meat sauce on spaghetti is something that fills the whole kitchen with love.
Yes, that’s love.
So, what would that flavorful sauce love to be paired with?
One thing that popped onto our radar as a potential idea would be something colorful and crunchy.
Well, how about baked parmesan zucchini fries?
You’ve already got the grated parmesan ready to rock for the pasta, so why not have it pull double duty as a spaghetti side dish?
Grab Trish’s crunchy and delectable recipe here: momontimeout.com
8. BRAIDED PESTO BREAD
Double your pesto, double your fun. While that may not be a phrase that’s currently sweeping the nation, we’re willing to bet that it might be soon.
Because, why not?
Pesto is the perfect pairing with spaghetti, and it’s just as wonderful smeared on bread.
So, why not bake up a crusty, cheesy, basil-laden braided pesto bread? It just makes good sense.
And talk about a match made in heaven!
Basil pesto on spaghetti, meet basil pesto bread.
You two will be very happy together.
Grab this gorgeous recipe from Shawnda at The Brewer and the Baker right here: thebrewerandthebaker.com
9. BRAISED FENNEL WITH PARMESAN
Spaghetti carbonara is rich and cheesy and bursting with flavor. It’s also really, really, decadent.
So, we love a light vegetable to pair with it. Something a little elegant, something that’s had a lot of love cooked into it.
Something perhaps that’s even a titch buttery.
How about slow braised fennel? It’s loaded with flavor, and when it’s combined with a little cheese it elevates itself into the “truly mouthwatering” category.
How much does the pasta want to hang out with the braised fennel? A lot.
Simone over at Simone’s Kitchen has a lovely recipe here: insimoneskitchen.com
10. GARLICKY GREENS
A good marinara sauce is savory and a little sweet from the basil and ripe tomatoes.
And what does a sauce with a little sweetness love? Something bitter to help it rock and roll on the plate.
The bitterness of the greens is a perfect pairing with the marinara, and then when garlic is added to the sauté pan – it makes a perfectly addictive side dish.
Grab this perfectly garlicky recipe from Heidi and her 101 Cookbooks here: 101cookbooks.com
11. LEMON PEPPER ASPARAGUS
We love tart and bright asparagus with spaghetti. Steamed or sautéed asparagus just pairs intensely well with the pasta.
So, while baking up a big ole’ batch of baked spaghetti we also like to toss asparagus on a quarter sheet pan and let the two share the same space.
It just makes good sense.
And when we discovered this recipe, we knew it would be the perfect buddy for baked spaghetti. Lemony asparagus with a kiss of garlic and parmesan has just the right amount of savory and salty goodness.
Isn’t salty goodness something that can bring the whole world together in harmony?
Grab Lacey’s recipe right here: asweetpeachef.com
12. CAESAR SALAD
We think that a hearty salad is one of the best sides that spaghetti can have. The contrast because rich pasta and crisp vegetables is a winning combination.
Vive la différence!
And a Caesar salad with a simple, fresh, and succulent dressing is the perfect thing to put on the table next to that extra gravy boat of pasta sauce.
So, pull out the salad spinner and get that romaine a-rollin’ – we’ve got an excellent side dish to prepare!
Grab Holly’s recipe from Spend With Pennies: spendwithpennies.com
13. RADICCHIO SALAD
As we said above, we love a kiss of bitterness with a hearty bowl of spaghetti. And what fits the bill perfectly? Bitter and brightly-hued radicchio, of course!
It’s loaded with flavor and kissed with a fresh pungency that makes it irresistible.
But we were intrigued when we found this recipe that promises to lessen the bitter factor, while still maintaining the integrity of the awesome radicchio crunch.
This salad would pair perfectly with a lightly creamy spaghetti Bolognese.
Find Camilla’s recipe here at Power Hungry: powerhungry.com
Side Dishes for Spaghetti: Starters and Drinks
You didn’t think we’d forget about how to kick your spaghetti meal off, did you? And what about those extra special drinks to up this basic dinner a few notches? We got you.
LET’S GET IT STARTED
We often think of heavier foods like breads covered in cheese or fried and breaded appetizers with spaghetti.
But spaghetti dishes can already be quite filling and heavy, so it’s often nice to lighten up the meal with contrasting and brighter appetizers.
Think a light plate of herbed and briny mussels. (Bet you haven’t thought of that for what to eat with spaghetti, right?) Trust us, it’s good eats.
Or the classic, bright and herby caprese salad.
The juicy bite of a perfectly fresh tomato and tender mozzarella with fresh basil is beautifully refreshing and a great way to start any meal.
Though a little heavier, the meaty, salty, and pickled flavors of a classic antipasto salad can balance a spaghetti dinner beautifully.
Or slices of sweet pears or figs wrapped in salty prosciutto – what a marvelous way to start the perfect pasta dinner.
If you’re looking for a little more crunch and you’re not already serving bread with the main dish, an herby crostini or tomatoey bruschetta is just the thing.
WINE FOR WHEN YOU’RE DINING ON SPAGHETTI
A nice glass of wine is really one of our favorite things to set down beside a hearty plate of pasta. And choosing the right wine to go with your dish should be fun, not intimidating.
For instance, deciding what to serve with spaghetti and meatballs should be just as enjoyable as the dish itself.
The hearty sauce and deep meatiness call out for a bold red wine that can hold its own and bring out the best of this comforting classic dish.
Why yes, I think you’re right. A gorgeous sangiovese would be just the thing.
Though, you also raise a good point, perhaps a hearty zinfandel would do the trick too.
Maybe open a bottle of both and see which works best with your recipe. It’s okay to experiment and find the perfect pairing.
Are you making a lighter marinara with more fresh herbs? A pinot noir or merlot would go beautifully.
Is your sauce lighter, with a cream, cheese, or oil base? That pinot noir might still be a great choice here.
But if you prefer white wines, this would be a great time to pop the cork on your favorite medium bodied white. A sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio will do nicely indeed.
Again, find a good starting point, but trust your own instincts and be willing to play around a little to find a wine to bring out the best in your pasta.
This holds true for both wine pairings and choosing the perfect side dishes for spaghetti. Want more ideas from similar meals, check out our list of Lasagna sides!
Food should be fun and the perfect pairings can transform a good meal into a great one.