angel hair pasta with garlic and herb scooped onto a plate

The recipe for Angel Hair Pasta with Garlic and Herbs comes with a warning:

Try not to eat the ENTIRE THING before scooping it next to the protein and vegetable of your choice because — WOW WOW WOW — this easy, 15 minute side dish is completely irresistible!

a fork swirling angel hair pasta with garlic herbs and parmesan cheese

Pasta Packet Copycat

This idea for this seriously delicious swirly dish came from a reader who asked for a homemade version of his favorite Pasta Roni pasta packet side (say that 5 times fast): Angel Hair Pasta with Herbs. My answer?

Heck yes I can hack that!

Then I upgraded it to not only include dried herbs and fresh garlic, but parmesan cheese too, all swirled together to create a creamy (no heavy cream required) side dish recipe that is totally going to steal the show at dinner tonight. If you love the convenience of pasta packet or box sides, but not the ingredient list, this dish is for you.

Ingredients Needed

I love that we always have the ingredients needed for Angel Hair Pasta with Garlic and Herbs on hand. Since I rarely have fresh herbs beyond cilantro or parsley on hand, I rely on the pantry and spice cupboard to create this dish. Here’s the lineup:

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  • Gluten Free Angel Hair Pasta. Angel hair pasta, sometimes called cappellini, is super thin strands of pasta. My kids love this cut of pasta because its fun and a little different than standard elbows or spaghetti. If you don’t need to eat GF, you can use regular angel hair pasta. I use Ronzoni gluten free “thin spaghetti”.
  • Aromatics: Fresh shallot and garlic give this easy pasta side dish tons and tons of flavor. I tested using onion and garlic powders instead, but the texture of the final dish was a little gritty once paired with the dried herbs. Fresh is best for these particular ingredients.
  • Dried Herbs: Dried basil, parsley, chives, and rosemary provide the herb portion of the garlic and herb angel hair pasta. The only special note here is to crush the dried rosemary as finely as possible between your fingertips before adding to avoid big woody pieces in the final dish.
  • Butter and Parmesan Cheese: butter and freshly grated parmesan cheese add decadence and lots of flavor to the angel hair pasta. Be sure to use freshly grated parmesan cheese vs powdered or pre-grated. Freshly grated using a microplane will melt into the sauce, while the other two will clump.
  • Pasta Cooking Water: Love when the byproduct of cooking one of the ingredients creates another one! Pasta cooking water is what I use to create a luscious, silky sauce for this side dish. Reserve the pasta water once the angel hair pasta is finished cooking then stir into the dish to create a creamy, lick your plate worthy sauce. SO GOOD.

What to Serve With This Recipe

Ok YES, FINE I’ve eaten this angel hair pasta all on its own as a meal, but if you want to serve it as intended, ie a side dish, pair it with the protein and vegetable of your choice. I happen to think it’d serve wonderfully with:

Ready to get in on this divine concoction?!

a fork swirling angel hair pasta with garlic herbs and parmesan cheese

How to Make This Recipe

Step 1: Cook the Pasta

Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil, then add gluten free angel hair pasta (or regular if you don’t need to eat GF) – again, I use Ronzoni “thin spaghetti”. Cook until the angel hair is just shy of al dente, as it will continue to cook in the skillet with the garlic and herbs. DO NOT DRAIN the pasta once it’s done cooking!

dry angel hair pasta being add to a pot of boiling water

Step 2: Make the Garlic Herb Sauce

Meanwhile, on a burner next door, melt butter in a large skillet over heat that’s just a touch above medium. Add minced shallot and pressed or minced garlic cloves then saute until the shallot is tender and the garlic is deliciously fragrant.

shallots and garlic sauting in butter in a skillet

Next add a combination of dried parsley, dried chives, dried basil, dried rosemary, and salt to the skillet and stir to combine.

dried herbs being added to a skillet with pasta

Step 3: Transfer the Pasta to the Skillet

If the angel hair noodles still have a minute or two to cook, take the skillet OFF the heat so the garlic doesn’t burn, but if the pasta is ready to rock, use tongs to transfer it directly into the skillet with the garlic herb mixture, reserving the pasta cooking water in the pot.

tongs transferring cooked pasta from a pot to a skillet

Last step is to add freshly grated parmesan cheese then start ladling the reserved pasta water into the skillet a little at a time, stirring with tongs or a spatula to create a light and silky sauce. I usually add between 1/2 – 3/4 cup pasta water total.

ingredients for angel hair noodles with garlic and parmesan cheese in a skillet

That’s all she wrote! Scoop the angel hair pasta onto plates with the protein and vegetable of your choice, then go to town! I hope you love each and every drop of this heavenly, creamy angel hair pasta recipe that tastes just like the pasta packet…but better! Enjoy!

creamy angel hair noodles with garlic and herbs on a plate

More Tasty Side Dish Recipes

Angel Hair Pasta with Garlic and Herbs (Pasta Packet Copycat!)

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5/5 (2 REVIEWS)

Description

Angel Hair Pasta with Garlic and Herbs is heavenly! This flavor-packed, 15 minute side dish is made completely with fridge and pantry staples.

Ingredients

serves 3-4

  • 4oz gluten free angel hair pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 small shallot, minced (~2 Tablespoons)
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • slightly rounded 1/2 teaspoon dried chives
  • slightly rounded 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • slightly rounded 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed between your fingertips
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (NOT powdered or pre-grated)

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil then add angel hair pasta and cook until it's just shy of al dente (pasta will continue to cook slightly in the skillet with the herb butter) - DO NOT DRAIN.
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over heat that's a touch above medium then add shallots and saute until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic then saute until extremely fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add dried chives, parsley, basil, rosemary, and salt then stir to combine.
  3. Use tongs to transfer cooked angel hair pasta from the cooking pot to the skillet then add parmesan cheese and a scoop of pasta cooking water (~1/4 cup) and then start stirring with tongs or a spatula. Continue to stir, adding pasta cooking water as needed, until a light and silky sauce has formed around the pasta. Don't be afraid to keep adding the pasta cooking water - it will not dilute the flavor of the dish!
  4. Scoop angel hair pasta onto plates then serve.

Notes

  • Be sure to break up the dried rosemary as finely as possible using your fingertips so you don't get large, hard pieces of the dried herb in your angel hair pasta.
  • I do not recommend using powdered or pre-grated parmesan cheese for this dish, as it will clump vs creating a light and silky sauce. Freshly grate a wedge of parmesan cheese using a microplane so the cheese melts into the pasta.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

photo collage of angel hair pasta with garlic and herbs