Thirty-minute meals have become a dinnertime phenomenon popularized by cooking shows; supported month after month in cooking magazines that line every grocery store checkout line; and pinned, liked, shared, saved, and texted by busy parents shuttling their kids to school, practice, playdates, and after school activities. To stay out of drive-thru lines, out of food delivery apps, and minimize the number of pizza nights each week, you need easy dinner ideas that use high-quality ingredients and are ready in 30 minutes or less. Get dinner done by taking the semi-homemade route and using a combination of jarred pasta sauces and gluten-free dried pastas or spiralized or riced vegetables, that are paired with vegetables and proteins. Let our 30-minute-or-less pasta sauce recipes below be your dinner-in-a-flash roadmap.
Vodka Sauce Recipes
All you need for this one is seven simple ingredients and a hot cast-iron skillet that’s raring to go. Brown and lightly crisp the outside of the skin-on chicken thighs in the skillet on all sides for five minutes before adding peeled garlic cloves, a jar of No-Dairy Vodka Sauce, and a few sprigs of fresh thyme, and sliding into the oven to finish cooking. Serve with a simple green salad and cauliflower rice, and dinner is done.
A one-pot version of a simplified bolognese pasta, our pasta sauce with meat uses grass-fed ground beef, aromatic veggies, gluten-free chickpea penne, and our complex, creamy and slightly sweet No-Dairy Vodka Sauce. For those who don’t tolerate dairy, we’ve included a bonus recipe for vegan parmesan cheese made with hemp seeds and nutritional yeast.
Mediterranean Veggie Pasta
Briny, salty, acidic, a touch sweet and rich, this plant-based Mediterranean Veggie Pasta combines five simple ingredients into a complex contrast of tastes. Spiralized yellow squash serves as the “pasta” base, and soaks up the No-Dairy Vodka Sauce, olives and artichokes add plenty of savoriness, and fresh basil adds a pop of freshness.
Marinara Sauce Recipes
Make a small batch of homemade bison meatballs or, if you’re really pressed for time, substitute high-quality, Whole30-friendly frozen meatballs. Combine the freshly browned meatballs or frozen meatballs in a pot with plenty of Roasted Garlic Marinara, and simmer on medium-low for about 15 minutes. Serve with zoodles for a keto or Whole30 meal, or with gluten-free pasta and you have a quick meatballs-sauce-pasta combo ready to slurp up.
A classic Italian-American comfort food, eggplant parmesan is often dredged twice in breadcrumbs, deep fried, topped with cheese, and served with a large tangle of tomato-sauced spaghetti. Our five-ingredient version simplifies things but also makes a version that’s keto and Primal-friendly but just as delicious.
A hearty, thick, and soul-warming ragu, bolognese sauce is typically made with two to three different types of protein (often pancetta, veal, and beef), wine, milk, stock, finely diced aromatic veggies, and lots of stovetop babysitting to produce the meaty sauce that covers noodles like a goose-down duvet. Our shortcut version is much lower maintenance, requires fewer ingredients, and still makes a tasty, comforting, meat-heavy sauce that cloaks zoodles beautifully.
If you’re looking for a rendition of spaghetti that’s low-carb, gluten-free, and low in calories, check out our version of low-carb spaghetti with marinara sauce made with hearts of palm noodles and topped with tangy, thick, slightly sweet, bright tomato sauce punctuated with basil. Tip: This recipe just skirts in at 35 minutes, but 30 of those minutes are spent on soaking the palm noodles—you can shorten this to 25 minutes, if you only have half an hour to spare.
Alfredo Sauce Recipes
This five-ingredient pasta recipe will be a hit for the whole family (OK, maybe leave off the fresh basil leaves for any youngsters who frown at “green things” mixed in their food). Take some help from the grocery store with a ready-cooked rotisserie chicken and you’ll have a simple yet filling dinner on the table in 15 minutes or less.
Our version of shrimp alfredo comes together quickly and easily with our No-Dairy Roasted Garlic Alfredo Sauce, spiralized zucchini noodles, fast pan-seared spiced shrimp, sliced grape tomatoes for a pop of color and a burst of acidity, and a liberal amount of chopped fresh parsley for an herby edge. Now you can have a fast and fantastic classic that’s lower carb and perfect if you don’t tolerate dairy well.
If autumn could be captured in a recipe, this would be it. This one-skillet “pasta” dish leverages the efficient heat conduction of a cast-iron skillet to soften and caramelize Brussels sprouts, crisp thick slices of bacon, and make butternut squash noodles pliable. Tossed together with our jarred No-Dairy Alfredo Sauce, this light seasonal meal looks like a mix of still-green and beginning-to-flame orange leaves on a tree in early fall.
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