POPSUGAR Celebrity

50+ Ways to Win at Weeknight Dinners

Jan 27 2015 - 4:25am

Weeknights are rarely the time to bust out a complicated, time-consuming recipe, but that doesn't mean you need to skimp on flavor or rely on takeout either. Instead, choose from this extensive collection of dinner ideas — 57 recipes, to be precise — that can be ready in about an hour or less. (Many take even less time than that.)

— Additional reporting by Aemilia Madden and Hilary White

Vegetarian Carbonara

Like a cross between pasta carbonara and mac and cheese, this creamy option [1] is ultracomforting.

Zesty Taco Salad

This greener take [2] on traditional tacos is proof that all you need to shake up an average salad is fresh veggies and a little bit of spice!

Greek Pasta With Tomatoes, Wine, and Feta

Inspired by the island of Santorini, Greece, this Greek pasta dish [3] is made primarily from pantry staples, making for a short grocery list.

Cod With Asparagus En Papillote

The fancy French name of this baked cod dish [4] might make you assume that it's tricky to make, but that couldn't be further from the case.

Linguine With Kale and Chickpeas

Greens and chickpeas bulk up an otherwise basic plate of linguine [5].

Chickpea Soup With Garlic Tortilla Triangles

With its broth-y base, abundance of carrots and celery, and noodles, this cold-busting soup [6] shares much in common with chicken noodle. Where it diverges is by swapping a handful of chickpeas for the poultry, making it vegan-friendly (provided you use vegetable broth).

Sun-Dried-Tomato Pasta Salad

A duet of fresh cherry tomatoes and their sweeter sun-dried sisters add bold flavor to this summery pasta salad [7].

Black-Bean Butternut-Squash Quesadilla

When stuffed with black beans and butternut squash [8], a quesadilla becomes meal-worthy.

Larb Gai (Thai Chicken Salad)

Pretend you're on a vacation throughout Southeast Asia while nibbling on this classic Thai chicken salad [9].

Vegan Farro Salad

If you are looking for lighter fare for dinner, try a sweet and savory vegan farro salad [10].

Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Pasta

You can add your own touch to this pasta dish [11] by tweaking the recipe to fit your personal preferences. Translation: for best results, add as much garlic and cheese as your heart desires.

Lemon-Garlic Chicken Drumsticks

Cooking an entire chicken takes a while. If you're in a rush, these lemon-garlic drumsticks [12] are a delicious alternative that will cut down the work for you.

Vegetable Medley Pasta

Don't feel limited by the assortment of vegetables used in this colorful pasta dish [13]; use pretty much whatever veggies that look good at the market or that you have on hand.

Spicy Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Ramen

Give ramen a Fall-ready spin [14] by adding a dollop of pumpkin puree and chunks of butternut squash.

Chicken Cobb Salad Wrap

Wraps aren't only for lunch; case in point, this filling take on chicken Cobb salad [15].

Spicy Tomato Soup With Grilled Cheese Croutons

If you're particularly short on time, float a handful of Goldfish or Cheez-Its atop this spicy tomato soup [16] instead of the gooey grilled cheese croutons.

Grilled Chicken Salad With Herb Vinaigrette

If the first lady puts her stamp of approval on something, then we are all ears. This simple salad recipe [17] is a standout from Michelle Obama's cookbook, American Grown [18].

Caprese Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese might not seem like a speedy, weeknight-friendly affair, but when simmered on the stovetop (rather than baked) like this caprese-salad-inspired stunner [19], it's totally doable.

Kale, White Bean, and Meatball Soup

This hearty option packs three of our favorite things — kale, meatballs, and white beans — into one broth-y, piping-hot bowl [20].

Rotini With Butternut-Sage Sauce

The pairing of butternut squash and sage is a classically delicious one, and this easy pasta recipe [21] utilizes the flavor combination in a magically flavorful way.

Lime-Leaf-Steamed Mussels

Served with a loaf of baguette and a simple green salad (if you're feeling fancy), steamed mussels [22] are the perfect weeknight meal.

Green Garlic Soup

Four types of alliums — green garlic, scallions, leeks, and chives — combine forces for a recipe that's ultrasimple to prepare [23] but never short on flavor.

Pasta Carbonara With Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Leeks

We'd be remiss to leave off this lighter, brighter veggie-packed take on pasta carbonara [24].

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Sure, you could make a meal of wings, but for something a bit more meal-like, take those flavors and pile them atop pizza instead [25].

Garlicky Arugula Pasta

The secret ingredient to this 10-minute pasta's success [26] — fish sauce — might sound odd, but know that it adds a salty-savory punch, rather than an overwhelmingly fishy flavor.

Mediterranean Lamb Kebabs

For something unexpected, try meaty Mediterranean ground-lamb kebabs [27].

Campanelle With Hard-Boiled Eggs, Capers, and Watercress

The saltiness of an anchovy-caper sauce adds the perfect touch to this rich pasta [28], but just wait until you taste the pièce de résistance: hard-boiled egg.

Chicken Thighs With Rhubarb and Cucumber Salsa

A spicy cucumber and rhubarb salsa [29] might sound like an unusual topping for chicken, but just trust us — it adds bright flavor, crunch, and interest.

Mediterranean Orzo Pasta Salad

For the best results, allow this Mediterranean-influenced orzo pasta salad [30] (and virtually all pasta salads) a few hours in the fridge to chill to let the flavors mingle and make friends. That said, it's still very tasty when eaten just after assembling, the prep time is minimal, and leftovers only improve overnight.

Brie-Stuffed Burger

Stuffing a burger patty with brie [31] is far easier than it looks and even tastier than you'd expect.

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

Creamy but not heavy, this pureed butternut squash soup [32] is even tastier the second day, making it a great candidate for leftovers.

Shells With Red-Pepper Tomato Sauce

Basil, bell peppers, and tomatoes combine in this simple recipe [33] to create a sweet, summery sauce that's perfect on pasta shells and in other dishes.

Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

You can't go wrong with beef and broccoli [34].

Chicken Spaghetti

Put a Tex-Mex spin on pasta with this bold chicken spaghetti casserole [35].

Humboldt Fog and Ham Grilled Cheese

Grilled ham and cheese goes from basic to brilliant when fancy cheese is involved [36].

Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, e Peperoncino

It doesn't get much simpler or more speedy than this Italian classic, spaghetti aglio, olio, e peperoncino [37]. Even if your pantry is almost empty, you likely have all of its ingredients — spaghetti, garlic, chili flakes, and olive oil — on hand.

Chicken Lo Mein

Don't be tempted by takeout. Make chicken lo mein [38] at home instead and celebrate your culinary talents.

Bacon and Tomato Pasta

Essentially a spin on pasta amatriciana, this hearty pasta dish [39] packs in the bold flavors of bacon, tomatoes, and parmesan cheese.

One-Pan Roasted Sausages, Peppers, Potatoes, and Onions

Keep both dinner prep and clean-up simple with this one-pan wonder [40].

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup

Broccoli-cheddar soup can edge into heavy territory but not this lighter, brighter take [41] that gets its creaminess from Greek yogurt.

Pasta With Pesto and Roasted Tomatoes

Even out-of-season cherry tomatoes will shine in this pesto-slicked option [42], as a brief trip to the oven concentrates their flavor. For a final flourish, toss the linguine with garlicky toasted breadcrumbs for crunch.

Lemon and Lavender Chicken

A dish as elegant as lemon and lavender chicken [43] can be yours on a weeknight, provided you plan ahead and get it marinating before you head to work.

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Unlike traditional tabbouleh, which has much more parsley than grains, this bulked-up quinoa-based recipe [44] can serve as a stand-alone meal.

Mac and Cheese With Tortellini and 2 Secret Ingredients

The "secret ingredients" in this macaroni and cheese dish [45] ensure that it's the creamiest, most decadent pasta you'll ever taste. Is your curiosity getting the best of you?

Chicken Parmesan Sub

A sandwich may sound more like an option for lunch, but this chicken parmesan sub [46] is robust, meaty, and worthy of your evening meal.

Pesto Pasta Salad

Bring this bold, colorful pasta salad [47] to a potluck dinner and prepare to get inquiries for the recipe.

Cider-Spiked Butternut Squash Soup

Thanks to a few ingenious shortcuts, cider-spiked butternut squash soup [48] can be ready in under 30 minutes.

Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese

No, this isn't a cousin to cauliflower rice; there's plenty of pasta at its base. This recipe from Michelle Obama employs pureed cauliflower to cleverly add body to the cheese sauce for a lighter version of the classic [49].

Rotisserie Chicken Tacos

Bulk up leftover chicken by stuffing it in homemade tacos [50]. Corn tortillas with guacamole, pico de gallo, hot sauce, and cotija cheese are all you need to make that chicken shine.

Spaghetti and Clams With Brown Butter and Garlic Breadcrumbs

You'll love this comforting combination of clams, garlic, and brown butter [51] for any occasion.

Orange Chicken

Love P.F. Chang's? Make our take on the restaurant's orange chicken [52].

Chicken Noodle Soup

On a night when you're craving something cozy, there's nothing like a rich bowl of chicken noodle soup [53] to warm you up.

Orecchiette With Brown Butter, Brussels Sprouts, and Walnuts

Nutty brown butter, walnuts, and brussels sprouts make for an irresistible bowl of orecchiette [54].

Chili Con Queso Nachos

Some nights, junk food like nachos is all you crave. This cheesy recipe [55] with chicken sausage fits the bill.

One-Pot Creamy Pumpkin Penne

This creamy pasta [56] might usurp pumpkin pie as your favorite Fall pumpkin dish. We're not joking.

Chicken and Kale Salad

A healthy salad can taste amazing. Don't believe us? This kale and chicken salad [57] is proof that you can pull together unexpected flavors and textures to create a fresh, quick, and flavorful dinner.

Pasta With Nettles, Almonds, and Feta

For something a little unexpected, try this pasta with nettles, almonds, feta, and sesame seeds [58]. Nettles not in season? Substitute spinach.

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