Weeknight Dinner Drama Solved: Quick and Easy 5-Ingredient Pasta Recipes!

Pasta! We all love it, but it's easy to get bored by this weeknight staple. Spice up your spaghetti with these easy 5-ingredient recipes from Katie Workman, author of The Mom 100 Cookbook and The Mom 100 blog

There’s a reason why the phrase “weeknight dinner” fills many people with anxiety – first of all, there are five of them a week. Second of all, even those of us who are organized and/or like to cook find ourselves shaking our heads in disbelief as 5 PM rolls around, and there’s not a thought even resembling dinner in our heads.

There are few better pantry staple dinner solutions than pasta. Regular wheat or semolina pasta, whole wheat pasta, long, skinny pasta, rice noodles, gluten free pasta, short, chunky pasta – whatever you choose, a stash of pasta in your kitchen guarantees that you can pull together a meal with whatever else in on hand.

In pretty much each of these recipes, the sauce comes together in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta. The pasta shapes listed in each recipe are just suggestions, you can mix and match the sauces with different shaped pastas as you like.

This 5-ingredient promise does not include the pasta itself, olive oil, salt or pepper. And there are a couple of optional ingredients tucked in at the end of the recipes if you’re feeling frisky enough to go for the sixth ingredient.

Chicken and Mushroom Marsala Pasta

quick and easy pasta recipes

Katie Workman

This is the definition of hearty. Marsala is the typical wine used in the classic chicken dish, but you could also try Madeiera, another fortified wine.

Campenelle with Chicken Sausage, Kale and Olives

quick and easy pasta recipes

Katie Workman

This is a filling pasta, but a bit less heavy than you might expect as chicken sausage is used instead of the usual pork sausage. Kale is the sweetheart green of the moment, and it’s absolutely delicious in this pasta, while also lending a big nutritional boost.

Whole Grain Penne with Zucchini, Tomato and Feta

quick and easy pasta recipes

Katie Workman

Feta, zucchini and tomato are classic Greek ingredients and they come together in this pasta with ease. It’s a vegetarian dish, but if you wanted to add some cooked chicken or shrimp that would be great, too. Don't skip the sprinkle of lemon zest -- it perks everything up considerably.

Thin Spaghetti with Fennel, Bacon and Parmesan

quick and easy pasta recipes

Katie Workman

This complex-tasting dish only requires a few ingredients. Try baking your bacon to reduce splattering and have the oven do the work for you.

Pasta with Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato and Scallion Sauce

quick and easy pasta recipes

Katie Workman

This is a creamy, vegetarian pasta with simple flavors. The technique of using some of the pasta cooking water in the sauce is an old one; the starch in the cooking water helps bind the sauce to the pasta. Additionally, cooking the pasta in the sauce itself for the last few minutes infuses the pasta with tons of flavor. Try roasted tomatoes (which you can make yourself easily, or purchase at an upscale food market) instead of the sun-dried for a slightly different, smokier flavor.

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