You know what?
Pasta dishes tend to be one of the easiest dishes you can make. Unless you plan on adding a little meat, there’s very minimal prep to do, since there’s nothing to chop up.
And that means you can even make it when you're pretty tired after a hard day at work and don’t have the energy to make the kind of meals you’d reserve for a weekend.
Plus you can get a really hearty and filling meal without having to break the bank. In fact, this recipe comes to just $1.20 per serving which is an absolute bargain, and a mere fraction of what you’d pay in a fancy restaurant.
And it’s also a great people pleaser that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Comfort food at its best if you ask me.
Much of the flavor comes from the cream cheese sauce, but you can really perk things up even more with say some garlic infused olive oil, or some freshly ground black pepper, or even a pinch of chili flakes if you really want to pack a punch.
Once I’ve laid out the recipe for you, I’m going to give you a few extra tips on how to really bring out the flavors. Then I’ve added a little FAQ section.
Basic Cream Cheese Pasta Recipe
This recipe takes just 10 minutes flat to make, and is enough for 2 large servings or 3 smaller servings.
- Half a pound of pasta (whole grain or regular) any shape
- ¾ cup of cream cheese
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1-2 minced garlic cloves
- ½ cup of water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon of chili flakes (totally optional)
Step 1: Add your pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water, and cook until “al dente”. This should take about 8 minutes and the pasta should not yet be fully softened.
Step 2: Reserve a cup of starchy pasta water before draining.
Step 3: While the pasta is cooking away, put the olive oil in a large skillet and fry the chopped garlic for 2 to 3 minutes on a low flame. At this point, you can also add the chili flakes if you are using them.
Step 4: Stir the cream cheese into the skillet with the olive oil and garlic mixture, and add half a cup of the starchy pasta water. You should get a nice creamy emulsion.
Step 5: Add the drained pasta to the skillet, and fully coat the pasta in the cream cheese sauce. You can add more of the starchy pasta water if the sauce still seems a little too thick.
Step 6: You can now serve up your pasta dish, and top it off with a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and some freshly ground black pepper. You may also like to add an extra splash of olive oil. Bon appétit!
How To Make It Taste Amazing!
For best possible results, you should be sure to use the finest ingredients
The cream cheese sauce works well with most types of pasta, including varieties such as whole grain and tricolor or spinach based.
And you can use pasta of any shape. My favorite is spaghetti, but your options are endless. You can go for linguine, penne, fusilli, the list goes on.
I think fresh pasta from the chilled aisle works best, but you can also use packet pasta.
In my opinion the best pasta to use is durum wheat semolina pasta.
Remember to not let the pasta reach its full softness in the pot, and only cook the pasta until al dente. This is because the pasta will cook still further when it is transferred to the skillet.
You can use cream cheese with added herbs if you so wish. It is this cheese that gives the dish its delicious creaminess.
But this is also helped by including some of that super starchy water that the pasta is cooked in.
In addition to adding a little chopped garlic, you could also use garlic-infused olive oil instead of regular olive oil, to give the sauce a stronger garlic flavor.
The pinch of chili flakes is completely optional, but if you do decide to use it, it really transforms the dish, giving it quite a kick.
Can I Add Extras?
There are certain extra ingredients that go particularly well with this dish. I’ll run through a few of my favorite additions:
- Fresh spinach
- Sliced mushrooms
- Sliced zucchinis
- Garden Peas
- Cherry tomatoes
- Fresh basil
- Diced bacon
- Sliced ham
- Grilled chicken
- Smoked salmon
- Sun dried tomatoes
So, you can either keep it vegetarian, or you can please your meat loving dinner guests.
Please don’t be afraid to add extra ingredients - it can really enhance the texture of the dish and provide you with extra nutritional benefits.
What To Serve With It?
This 10 minute cream cheese pasta dish works perfectly well as a main course on its own. But if you prefer you can serve it as a side dish alongside some healthy meats such as grilled chicken or with some nice poached salmon.
Or alternatively you could serve it up with a cherry tomato and cucumber salad, or for some extra protein and fiber, how about a tuna and bean salad?
Is Pasta Healthy?
Because it’s quite high in carbs, many people wrongly assume that pasta isn’t healthy. However, so long as you don’t overdo it and eat your pasta in moderation, it can form an excellent part of a good healthy diet.
If you wanted to make your 10-minute cream cheese pasta dish a little healthier, you could go for whole grain pasta rather than regular.
It offers more natural fiber and micronutrients than regular white pasta, and it also has a lower glycemic index, so it shouldn’t cause your blood sugar to spike.