Pasta night is often the quickest way to get dinner on the table with minimal effort. The end of a long day? Pasta. Need something both adults and kid will eat? Pasta. That said, I feel like weeknight pasta preparations have evolved quite a bit in recent years with lots of creative ideas bubbling up. You see a lot of vegetable-centric pastas, and plenty of experimenting with different shapes, and ingredients. I thought I'd highlight a few weeknight pasta ideas, specifically ones with less than ten ingredients - actually, a few are in the eight ingredient range, not counting salt, pepper, and olive oil ;)
A couple tips / tricks. If a heavy cream sauce feels too indulgent (or if you're vegan), swap in homemade cashew (or almond) milk, it's a nice substitute without as much of the decadence. Experiment with some of the alternative pastas out there, I like to rotate between regular pasta, whole grain pasta, and chickpea pasta. All are great, and bring their own personality and nutritional profiles to the table.
1. Classic Stuffed Shells - (101 Cookbooks)
The best part about stuffed shells is that you can prepare them days ahead of time. These are topped with red sauce, and filled with ricotta. Crowd pleaser for kids & adults. Get the recipe here.
2. Weeknight Ponzu Pasta - (101 Cookbooks)
This is the pasta preparation to make when you want to keep it light, clean, and healthy. Lots of bright green broccoli, green beans, garlic, and pasta tossed with a simple ponzu sauce. Trade in roasted winter squash as the seasons shift from away from tomatoes. Get the recipe here.
3. Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta & Cauliflower - (Green Kitchen Stories)
A beautiful, vegan riff on spaghetti al pesto. Bonus points for working in spinach and cauliflower for an extra healthy dinner. Get the recipe here.
5. An Excellent, One-pan, Protein-packed Power Pasta - (101 Cookbooks)
Another slightly unconventiona ine-panl pasta preparation made with crushed tomatoes, kale, and cooked lentils. Boost it with a thread of tahini, some lemon zest, and/or a kiss of saffron. Seven base ingredients and you're in business. Get the recipe here.
6. Rigatoni with Eggplant Puree - (Smitten Kitchen)
Yes to this. Roasted veg blitzed into an eggplant and tomato sauce for your rigatoni. Accented with mint (or basil), Parmesan, and toasted pine nuts. Get the recipe here.
7. Ditalini Risotto - (Bon Appétit)
I like to make this brilliant (yet simple!) Camille Becerra recipe with a flavorful veg broth. Love the idea of cooking the ditalini like you would risotto. Super clever! Get the recipe here.
8. Harissa Spaghettini - (101 Cookbooks)
I link to this whenever possible. Eight ingredients - most of which you definitely have on hand, between you and this flavor-punched tangle of kale-flecked goodness. That harissa in your refrigerator? This needs to be its destiny. Get the recipe here.
9. Simple Weeknight Pasta Sauce Recipes - (101 Cookbooks)
I've also done this round-up of great (and simple!) weeknight pasta sauce recipes. So, if you're not seeing anything here that seems quite right, hop on over for more ideas. Sauce Recipes.