When most of us think of big-batch recipes, we imagine casseroles, stews, and heaping vats of chili. Commonly overlooked in this slew of delicious, efficient dishes? Pasta—which happens to be very delicious, very efficient, and almost inherently big-batch. It’s harder to cook pasta for one than it is to cook pasta for a group, and upping your serving size is so easy there’s almost no reason not to do it. Given this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are tons of big-batch pasta recipes out there—and virtually all of them are worth devouring.
Though macaroni and cheese and spaghetti and meatballs spring to mind as obvious big-batch pasta candidates, there are plenty of less-expected options worth taking advantage of, too. Gnocchi may seem almost untouchably gourmet, but it can be surprisingly easy to make—even in big batches. Some braised beef pastas come together in the slow cooker, offering flavor and convenience in equal measure. And pasta salads (yes, they count) can offer a lighter change of pace fit for lunch and late afternoon snacks, alike. Don’t worry, your go-to lasagnas and baked zitis still deserve spots in your rotation. But the vaster and more varied your arsenal, the less likely you are to get bored.
What’s nice: Big-batch pasta recipes aren’t just tasty and convenient, they’re also incredibly flexible. Not feeling the cheese one recipe calls for? Swap it with another. Unable to find the gourmet meat one pasta requires? Sub in something you already have in your fridge. Craving more vegetables, more cheese, more spices? Dump ‘em in. So long as you have a bunch of pasta and a boiling hot pot of water, you have a big-batch pasta in the making, and you can put whatever you want in there. The recipes are just a starting point—the rest is up to you.