Pasta when prepared traditionally by boiling in water really has no flavor, it is up to whatever sauce or cream you coat it with to make it shine. But preparing pasta like risotto gives it a whole new depth of flavor that allows it to be enjoyed in a new way.
If you have never made risotto and are wondering what the heck i'm talking about it, it's simply arborrio rice cooked slowly with aromatics and some type of stock that is added a bit at time, leaving it with a rich flavor and al dente crunch. It does require some babysitting, but takes no more than 20 minutes.
To substitute the arborrio rice you could use any type of pasta, but I think a short thick noodle would work best, such as penne, orecchiette, or corkscrew (which is what I used). And as with all my favorite recipes, next comes your imagination to really make the dish stand out. One of my favorite ways to prepare risotto is "Milanese" style, it is cooked with saffron infused chicken stock and white wine and topped with butter and Parmesan cheese. That is the approach I took last night and to make it a meal I topped it with a bit of tomato sauce and grilled flank steak I had leftover from the night before.