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5-ingredient Pasta Principles to Upgrade Your Weeknight Cooking

5-ingredient Pasta Principles to Upgrade Your Weeknight Cooking

Recipes and tips included

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Dasom Yang

Dasom Yang

Food Editor at Kitchen Stories

Weeknight hero: 5-ingredient pasta

At the end of a long day balancing work, family, and social commitments, we're often left yearning for a quick, all the while satisfying dinner. Enter the savior of weeknight dinners: 5-ingredient recipes!

We started developing 5-ingredient recipes for their simple but balanced nature, often using only the pantry items and easy-to-find ingredients, and of course, their full, satisfying flavor.

And what's more simple, balanced, and satisfying than pasta? Combining our two favorite concepts–5-ingredient recipes and pasta–we help you conjure up a restaurant-worthy meal in (often) less than 30 minutes.

If you're looking for a cheat sheet for that perfect, scrumptious pasta, take a look at PASTA MAGIE, our own spice mix developed to work wonders for all pasta dishes. Made with all organic tomato, basil, oregano, onion, garlic, sea salt, thyme, and chili flakes, this classic mix will save you space in your pantry and time in the kitchen.

A shortcut for perfect pasta dishes:

Pasta Magie seasoning

Pasta Magie seasoning

FROM KITCHEN STORIES

Check it now

Your pasta toolbox: Get to know your 5 ingredients

When you are limiting your recipe to just 5 ingredients or fewer, every ingredient needs to pull its weight. Rather than sorting through a massive list of ingredients each time you're making pasta, narrow down your choices step by step. Think of a toolbox, in which 5 essential components for a perfect pasta lie at your disposal.

1. Pasta

Choosing the shape of pasta sets out the tone for your entire dish. Long, short, tubular or shell-shaped – the possibilities are almost endless. We love all pastas equally, but for best results, it's important to keep in mind that each shape has its own match.

General rule of thumb: Pair long pasta (spaghetti, linguine, pappardelle, etc.) with silky sauce like carbonara and alfredo, as well as sauces like bolognese. Smoother sauces will coat the noodles evenly and make sure you don't experience an uneven bite. Since you have to twirl your fork rather than stab the ingredients, these pastas don't do well with chunky veggies or meats.

Try this recipe:

5-ingredient easy shrimp alfredo

5-ingredient easy shrimp alfredo

Use short pasta (penne, fusilli, rigatoni, etc.) for recipes that call for bigger chunks of ingredients such as roasted vegetables, meats or beans: You can easily catch everything in one stab while the curves and nooks in these pastas serve as wonderful vessels for sauce and therefore flavor.

Try this recipe:

5-ingredient creamy orecchiette with peas and crispy Parma ham

5-ingredient creamy orecchiette with peas and crispy Parma ham

2. Sauce

A great pasta dish hinges on a flavorful sauce. Whether you prefer something rich and tomatoey, cheesy and creamy or oily and garlicky, a luscious, flavorful sauce that perfectly coats your pasta is key.

Tomato-based sauces are extremely versatile: Whether you want to make a simple pasta salad with seasonal tomatoes, veggies, and mozzarella, or make a rich, hearty bolognese with meatballs, the natural tartness, sweetness, as well as the juiciness of tomatoes offer a perfect canvas for flavors to flourish.

They also work well with herbs and spices (more on this later!) to take on aroma and flavor and create all-time-classics, such as our new 5-ingredient spaghetti meatball recipe. To perfect the rich tomato sauce required for the classic meatball spaghetti, we used our Pasta Magie spice mix: Centering around organic tomatoes, basil, and oregano, this spice mix conjures up the depth of classic pasta sauce in a dash.

Try this recipe:

5-ingredient spaghetti meatballs

5-ingredient spaghetti meatballs

When opting for creamy and cheesy sauces such as carbonara and alfredo, we recommend keeping your ingredients simple and using spices to accentuate. Since creamy sauces are already rich and the strong flavor of cheese can dominate the palate, we don't want to overwhelm the dish by loading up on veggies and meats.

Try this recipe:

5-ingredient lemony brown butter linguine with scallops

5-ingredient lemony brown butter linguine with scallops

3. Herbs and spices

Think of them as the secret weapon in your toolbox for simple-yet-delicious pastas. In just a pinch, spices and herbs can build the flavor base as well as add that wow factor that makes your dish instantly recognizable.

The easiest way to achieve this is by choosing already prepared blends, such as the organic seasoning blends from Kitchen Stories that we have created ourselves!

Starting from hot, pungent spices like black and white peppers, mustard, chili, and curry, to aromatic herbs like thyme, basil, bay leaf, powdered garlic and onion, they define your 5-ingredient pasta and give it its crowning glory.

Parsley, oregano, basil, and rosemary instantly add the Italian magic you crave to your plate. But getting creative with chili, curry, and other under-utilized spices can also do wonders to accentuate flavors and harmonize all the other ingredients in your dish.

Try adding a sprig of mint on your lemony pasta, add a pinch of nutmeg in your classic mac and cheese, or sage in your creamy pumpkin pasta and savor the pleasant effect for as long as your dinner lasts–and some more!

Try this recipe:

5-ingredient chicken curry pasta

5-ingredient chicken curry pasta

Up your seasoning game with Indian inspired flavors:

Curry Power seasoning

Curry Power seasoning

FROM KITCHEN STORIES

Check it now

4. Veggies

Not a fan of veggies in your pasta? Perhaps you haven't experienced the wonders that broccoli, spinach, zucchini, roasted red peppers, leafy greens, or in fact, tomatoes (!) can perform for your dish.

Not only do these vegetables add fresh texture and flavor, they also add numerous nutrients and fiber. Choose according to your preference and season, and make sure you pair them with the right pasta and a bold sauce that will infiltrate your veggies.

Try this recipe:

vegan
5-ingredient paccheri with roasted cauliflower

5-ingredient paccheri with roasted cauliflower

5. Protein

Even though 5-ingredient pastas are easy and quick, you don't need to give up nutrition or fullness. Choosing the right protein is the key! Whether its roasted and spiced chickpeas coated in lemony buttery sauce or poached eggs on your chili-tomato spaghetti, selecting the right protein will change the texture and flavor of your dish, not to mention how long you stay full afterwards!

When choosing your protein, consider the method of cooking: Will you be cooking it in the sauce or will you cook them separately and add them later? Depending on your preference, it can impact the overall cooking time and the outcome. Cooking meat, for example, is best done along with the sauce so that the flavorful fat can enhance the sauce; if you're using canned beans, however, it would likely give you best result to cook them separately to avoid adding extra liquid.

Try this recipe:

vegan
5-ingredient spiced chickpea pasta

5-ingredient spiced chickpea pasta

To maximize the flavor dimension for this pasta, we used our Aromen Reichtum spice mix. Centering cumin, chili flakes, sea salt, parsley, and coriander, this spice blend works equally well with tomato, cream, or oil based sauces, bringing in an oomph of aroma and flavor.

Try our mix of Turkish-inspired flavors:

Aromen Reichtum seasoning

Aromen Reichtum seasoning

from Kitchen Stories

Check it now

10 5-ingredient pasta recipes to try

With these 5 tools in mind, mixing and matching your simple and satisfying pasta recipes has never been easier. In case you need more inspiration, here are 10 more of our wonderful 5-ingredient pasta recipes that will save your weeknight dinners and beyond.

vegetarian
5-ingredient stovetop mac and cheese

5-ingredient stovetop mac and cheese

5-ingredient baked fusilli with ham and cheese
5-ingredient creamy tomato and basil pasta
5-ingredient baked gnocchi with italian sausage
5-ingredient no-cook zoodle marinara
5-ingredient spinach gnocchi with pesto
5-ingredient miso cacio e pepe with squash noodles
5-ingredient spaghetti with fennel, tomato, and mint
5-ingredient tortellini in brodo with greens
5-ingredient lemony chickpea and tahini tagliatelle

What is your go-to pasta recipe? Let us know in the comments!

Published on November 8, 2023

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