Pasta dinners in less time than takeout

Published on March 01 2010 - 4:06 PM

We have pasta night once a week (at least) at my house. There are lots of reasons why pasta makes it on our weekly dinner rotation—perhaps the best reason is that it’s fast. While I do love to cook, I have a 30-minute rule during the week: if a recipe won’t be ready in 30 minutes, I won’t make it! I save longer, more complicated recipes for the weekend, when I have more time to enjoy the process. The other reason I love pasta is its versatility. It’s a great way to enjoy traditional Italian sauces, but pasta also shines in Asian dishes, with untraditional toppings and more.

Plus, you can pack your pasta dinner full of fiber by going whole-grain. Check out the winners of our whole-wheat pasta taste test to find a brand you like.

Here are 5 of my favorite pasta recipes, ready in 30 minutes (or less!).

Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Pasta—Here’s a way to use the “power vegetables” sweet potato and red bell pepper in a satisfying vegetarian pasta dish full of fresh herbs and creamy goat cheese. Any fresh herbs you have on hand, such as basil, oregano, sorrel or chives, can be substituted for the tarragon. Serve with a garden salad.

Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomato Orzo—Sun-dried tomatoes and Romano cheese pack a flavorful punch along with the tantalizing aroma of fresh marjoram in this rustic Italian-inspired dish. Serve with sautéed fresh spinach or steamed broccolini.

Fusilli with Italian Sausage & Arugula—A whole teaspoon of black pepper along with a small amount of Italian turkey sausage deliver a piquant flavor without adding too much in the way of saturated fat and calories in this quick pasta dish. For maximum taste, use a high-quality cheese. Bonus: This one’s just for two.

Hoisin Beef & Edamame Noodles—Sweet hoisin sauce and tangy lime juice balance perfectly in this quick, colorful, Asian-inspired noodle dish. Make it a meal: Dress a cucumber salad with toasted sesame oil and lime juice and enjoy a cup of jasmine green tea.

No-Bake Macaroni & Cheese—Not only is this ultra-creamy version of mac-and-cheese nearly as fast as the boxed variety, but your family will be able to pronounce every ingredient. If they aren’t broccoli fans, substitute a frozen vegetable of your choice.

A graduate of New England Culinary Institute and University of Wisconsin with a degree in journalism, Carolyn pairs her long-standing love for food with writing as EatingWell's senior food editor. Carolyn’s culinary interest is rooted in her childhood; she grew up making thousands of Christmas cookies every year with her mom and picking leaves off bunches of parsley to make tabbouleh with her dad. Away from the kitchen, Carolyn enjoys seeking out rare craft beers and exploring the outdoors with her husband, 2-year-old daughter and dog.