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Weeknight Wonders: 4 Pasta Recipes You Can Make in Under 20 Minutes

4 Fast, Fresh Pasta RecipesEven as sunny afternoons and late sunsets define these slow-paced August days, the back to school season looms. For our family, next week marks the beginning of the school year. Each year, I face it with a mixture of nervousness and relief. And this year, I’m adding something else to the mix – a trove of fast, fresh dinners that are just right for those evenings when homework or activities run late.

On nights when we need a great dinner in a hurry, pasta is the perfect option. In fact, pasta is so simple, tasty, and reliably kid-friendly that there’s a strong chance it’s already in your weekly repertoire. And while I absolutely do not want to mess with a good thing, I’ve got a few fresh and easy ways to change up your pasta routine in just minutes. Head below for four simple recipes that will make weeknight dinners a snap!

4 Fast, Fresh Pasta Recipes

4 Fast, Fresh Pasta Dinners

Prep time: 5 – 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4

Burst Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic, and Parmesan

4 Fast, Fresh Pasta Recipes

Fresh tomatoes are always delicious, but even after peak tomato season has passed, tiny cherry tomatoes can deliver surprisingly intense flavor.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 – 2 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and chopped
2 cups cherry tomatoes, rinsed and dried
sea salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil leaves, chopped
Parmesan cheese
pasta of choice, cooked according to package instructions

Directions:
Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and toast for 1 minute. Add the cherry tomatoes and a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper. Cook tomatoes just until they begin to burst, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, toss with cooked pasta, and finish with fresh basil, Parmesan shavings, and sea salt and pepper to taste.

 

Marinara with Spinach and Chèvre

4 Fast, Fresh Pasta Recipes

Dress up a basic marinara sauce with fresh garlic, spinach, and a dollop of creamy chèvre.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 – 2 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and chopped
1 1/2 cups simple marinara (with its short ingredient list, I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s marinara)
2 cups baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
sea salt and pepper to taste
pasta of choice, cooked according to package instructions
1/4 cup chèvre

Directions:
Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and toast for 1 minute. Turn heat to medium-low, stir in the marinara, and cook until steamy. Fold the hot marinara in with the pasta and spinach leaves. Garnish with a dollop of chevre just before serving.

 

Pancetta, Herbs, and Steamed Vegetables

4 Fast, Fresh Pasta Recipes

Pancetta is a simple way to add flavor to a pasta dish. Here, it pairs beautifully with seasonal vegetables.

Ingredients:
2 cups green beans, trimmed and chopped
1/2 cup chopped pancetta
1/4 cup minced fresh herbs
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste
pasta of choice
Parmesan shavings

Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook according to instructions. When there are 2 minutes of cook time remaining, toss green beans into pasta water, and cook for remaining 2 minutes. Drain pasta and green beans. Toss with pancetta, herbs, a generous drizzle of olive oil, and sea salt and pepper to taste. Finish with a few shavings of Parmesan cheese.

 

Toasted Pepita Pesto with Parmesan

4 Fast, Fresh Pasta Recipes

Pesto doesn’t have to be a big production. This recipe pairs minced garlic and herbs with toasted pepitas for a fresh, nutty pesto that’s ready in a jiff.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
1/4 cup raw, hulled pepitas
2 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and chopped
1 cup mixed herbs (I used a mix of basil and parsley)
sea salt and pepper to taste
pasta of choice, cooked according to package instructions
Parmesan shavings

Directions:
1. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When the oil’s hot, toss in the pepitas. Shake pan gently as pepitas cook. Remove from heat just as they start to pop. Sprinkle pepitas with sea salt and set aside to cool.

2. Use a fork to combine the minced garlic and herbs. Spoon the pepitas on to a cutting board and chop. Drizzle chopped pepitas and any remaining olive oil (from the skillet) into the herb mixture. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.

3. Toss pesto with pasta and garnish with Parmesan cheese shavings.

 

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