penne pasta

Back to Basics: Quick & Easy Pasta everyone can make

Easy Pasta

One of the foods cooked most often in my house, is probably pasta. At least once, if not two or even three times a week, pasta is requested! When you are short of time and want something quick, easy, cheap and filling, pasta is the answer!

Any type of pasta can be used, just use whatever you have. Regular wheat pasta, gluten free pasta, corn pasta, lentil pasta or even black bean pasta work well. The shape is not too important either – generally we have penne or twists as these are the most readily available where we are. We also have spaghetti quite often and any other shape which we might find in bulk or on sale!

pesto penne
Pesto penne with ground almond sprinkle
Photo by Nerfee Mirandilla on Unsplash

The Pasta Recipe

Obviously, you need pasta for the recipe and then a selection (or all) of the following. Milk, nutritional yeast, cream cheese, pesto, fresh basil, hard cheese, black pepper. It is also great to add some green vegetables – try small florets of broccoli, peas and / or washed baby spinach. If you need salt, then you can add that too, but generally we add that after cooking if required.

Most importantly for all pasta, boil the water first (we use the kettle, then pour it into a warmed saucepan). When the water is boiling in the pan, add the pasta (around 100g per person for a main meal) and allow to cook for about 10 minutes, checking there is enough water for the pasta to expand. You can add a splash of oil and/or salt here if you wish.

Drain the water out of the pasta, check that it is almost cooked, return to the heat and add a splash or two of milk and a spoonful or two of ready made pesto. We use a vegan green pesto. If you are out of pesto, finely chop a handful of fresh basil instead (or use both)! Season to taste with black pepper. Allow to cook through until the liquid has almost all been absorbed. This is the quickest, simplest recipe. Serve. Enjoy!

corn penne in white bowl
Corn penne pasta with fresh basil
Photo by Shameel Mukkath from Pexels

Make the pasta as above, but stir in some extras after adding the milk: a tablespoon of cream cheese; a good dose of nutritional yeast or a handful of grated cheese. If adding green vegetables, add them after draining the water and stir through to start cooking before adding the milk.

pesto gnocchi with walnuts
Pesto gnocchi with spring greens, cheese & walnuts
Photo by Sebastian Coman on Unsplash

Of course, you can always serve the pasta alongside some chicken, fish, or something like Quorn, tofu or seitan if you are vegetarian or vegan. A sprinkle of finely grated cheese, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast, black pepper or even ground almonds is great to add just before serving!

penne pesto with quorn fillets
Pesto pasta with quorn fillets and garlic bread
Photo by Nerfee Mirandilla on Unsplash

What do I need?

You can (as with most of my recipes), make this as simple or as complicated as you wish! I have already posted a similar pesto pasta recipe on here, but have created this to add to my Back to Basics collection. Once you start making pasta like this, you will realise it really is a great recipe to use on repeat.

If you are new to cooking or your kitchen needs a refresh, here are a few useful things for this recipe. I receive a small commission if you click and purchase through these links (this is at no additional cost to you)!


If we have time, we often serve our pasta with homemade garlic bread, using slices of bread spread with a mix of finely chopped garlic and butter, then baked in the oven for 5-10 minutes. A salad is always a great addition to pasta and my favourite is still this Turkish Shepherds Salad. Another great addition to get a healthy dose of your five-a-day in, is to stir through some roasted vegetables after cooking.

pesto spaghetti with tomatoes
Pesto Spaghetti with roasted tomatoes and garlic bread
Photo by Shania Pinnata on Unsplash


Pasta does store quite well, covered in the fridge. Eat within three days either cold, or sprinkle with water and reheat. You can freeze leftovers, but the texture of this dish will change considerably after defrosting, so I would advise against it (plus it is so quick to make, it’s easier to make fresh)!


I hope you experiment with this easy pasta recipe. I love seeing your adaptions and interpretations of my recipes and I’d love to see photos of your pasta!

Will you make the basic recipe, or add some extras in? Please share and tag me @LifeDietHealth or using #LifeDietHealth on InstagramPinterest,  Facebook or Twitter.

Leave me a comment below… I love to chat!

I hope to speak with you soon

Laurena x


  • tulips79 27th January 2022 at 20:02

    Hi Laurena, we love pasta and pesto- we had it only last night lol. Hubby likes to add tuna to his and I like kidney or cannellini beans. I like your idea of almond sprinkle instead of parmesan or similar. I sometimes make my own pesto with ground almonds or hazelnuts but never thought to use nuts as a pasta topping. I also love (chili) Marmite & butter/Marg pasta, so yummy☺️

    • Laurena@LifeDietHealth 27th January 2022 at 21:53

      Oh, we’ve never added tuna Eva but I like the idea of cannellini beans (butter beans would be good too). I sometimes mix nutritional yeast with the ground almonds to make a vegan parmesan. Marmite (or chilli marmite) pasta sounds yummy. What other pastas do you make?

      • tulips79 28th January 2022 at 07:05

        My fave is soya mince Bolognese🙂I also like a good veggie pasta, especially with lots of carrot and peas. I added parsnip last time but as much as I like it, it didn’t taste right in pasta sauce for me lol

        • Laurena@LifeDietHealth 1st February 2022 at 00:03

          Interesting about parsnips… maybe try a macaroni cheese style pasta with parsnip crisps on top? I had a soya mince bolognese tonight made with a pumpkin tomato base…

  • Quick and easy five minute protein and vitamin packed lunch ⋆ Life Diet Health 23rd June 2022 at 12:58

    […] Serve this just as it is as a quick and tasty lunch or even as an evening meal. Add a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds for extra yumminess if you wish. Of course, you could just cook the greens on their own and serve them as a side to something like this tasty quinoa dish or even with some pasta. […]


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