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The delicate noodles of angel hair pasta pair with light sauces and fresh flavors! Here’s how to flavor this pasta as an easy side dish.

Angel Hair Pasta
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Here’s an irresistibly light and airy pasta that makes the perfect side dish: Angel Hair Pasta! These delicate noodles are very quick to cook (think 4 minutes!). But they’re also a little devious: they soak up a good sauce in an instant, quickly transforming to dry and tasteless. Learn how to cook them right, and they come out fluffy and perfectly seasoned: ideal for pairing with shrimp, chicken or veggie mains. Here’s how to make angel hair pasta into a quick and easy side dish that’s tasty every time!

Cooking with angel hair pasta

Angel hair pasta, also known as capellini or capelli d’angelo, is an Italian pasta that’s been popular for centuries. This type of noodle looks similar to spaghetti, but it’s much thinner. Because of its delicate size, it’s best with light sauces or in soups.

This pasta shape can become clumpy and tangled, making it hard to toss with large chunks like vegetables or protein. To us, it’s ideal seasoned as a side dish. Serve it as a side for shrimp (like in shrimp scampi), with chicken or a vegetarian entrée. If you’re looking for a recipe with a fancy sauce, this isn’t the one: but it is a great trick to a super-fast pasta side dish.

Angel Hair Pasta

Tricks to well seasoned angel hair pasta

Angel hair tends to absorb a lot of a sauce and become very dry, and the noodles can become very tangled (especially if you’re trying to mix vegetables or proteins into it). Here are a few tricks to seasoning angel hair as a side dish we’ve learned after experimenting with it:

  • Rinse the pasta in lukewarm water. Rinsing the pasta helps to remove the starch, making the pasta less clumpy and more able to resist absorbing the sauce. Conventional Italian wisdom may say otherwise, but we had best results with rinsing here.
  • Add olive oil, a good dose of salt, and dry seasonings. We’ve tried rich and creamy sauces with angel hair, but it tends to soak it up and become dry: all the fat doesn’t enhance this pasta. It tastes best seasoned with salt, garlic powder, oregano and basil.
  • Use Parmesan as a garnish, not in the sauce. In our recipe testing, Parmesan muted the flavors in the sauce instead of bringing them out. We like using grated Parmesan as a garnish when serving.
Angel Hair Pasta

Ways to serve this pasta recipe

Jump to the recipe below to make this seasoned angel hair pasta recipe for a simple side dish! Again, this is intended as an easy pasta side dish and not an elaborately seasoned main dish. Here’s how we’d recommend serving it:

  • As a side for shrimp, salmon, tofu, or chicken
  • As part of shrimp scampi
  • With other fresh herbs like basil, oregano, chives and thyme
  • With sautéed garlic instead of garlic powder
  • Top with burrata cheese to make it a heartier main
  • With sliced cherry tomatoes if in season

How are you planning to serve angel hair pasta? Let us know in the comments below.

More pasta recipes

Love pasta? They come in every shape and size! Here are some of our favorite pasta recipes that work as side dishes or meals:

This angel hair pasta recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Angel Hair Pasta

Easy Angel Hair Pasta


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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

The delicate noodles of angel hair pasta pair with light sauces and fresh flavors! Here’s how to flavor this pasta as an easy side dish.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 8 ounces angel hair pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  • ½ tablespoon dried basil
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or 3 to 4 tablespoons assorted chopped fresh herbs, optional*)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, to garnish (optional; or vegan Parmesan)

Instructions

  1. Boil the pasta in salted water, according to the package instructions (typically about 4 minutes).
  2. Drain the pasta. Then rinse it in lukewarm water (this is important so the pasta doesn’t absorb too much of the seasonings).
  3. Add the pasta back to the pot. Stir in the olive oil, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil, and salt and toss until fully combined. If desired, add the chopped parsley and top with grated Parmesan cheese. Serve as a side dish.

Notes

*This angel hair pasta is even better if you have fresh herbs on hand! Try it with chopped fresh basil, oregano, chives, or thyme. 

  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Boiled
  • Cuisine: Pasta
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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4 Comments

  1. Forrest Aldrich says:

    I love this recipe, it’s so easy and elegant. Love your other recipes, tool. This is an amazing resource. Thank you!






  2. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!






    1. Dee says:

      How long can you keep leftovers? Thanks!

      1. Sonja Overhiser says:

        Leftovers are good up to 3 days refrigerated! Thank you!