Quick pasta lunches for busy mothers

Quick pasta dishes for busy mums ... perfect when you need to get something healthyish on the table in 10 minutes flat!

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Working from home it’s often just me for lunch.

On my own and juggling work & washing it’s too easy to skip lunch or grab something so light that by mid afternoon I’m tempted to snack on rubbish.

This is where pasta comes into it’s own.

You really can throw together a super tasty, quick past lunch in the 8 minutes it takes to cook pasta. And pasta will keep you going as it’s pretty low GI. (Particularly whole wheat).

Pasta with nothing but good olive oil, black pepper & parmesan is pretty good but this list of my favourite 14 quick pasta sauces shows you can do much, much more in your 10 minutes.

Most of the sauces are adapted from my favourite Italian recipe books … (Carluccio, Locatelli, River Cafe) … to make use of ingredients I will have in the fridge, cupboard or freezer.

My top 10 store cupboard essentials for quick pasta lunches are:

  1. Yoghurt, cottage cheese, creme fraiche or ricotta
  2. Tins or jars of anchovies, sardines & mussels which are not as yummy as they are fresh but still good & chock full of great high-energy, mummy-sanity-assisting nutrients 
  3. Tomato puree
  4. Pine nuts
  5. Dried chilli
  6. Dried fruit e.g. raisins, sultanas, currants
  7. Preserved aubergine (egg plant), red pepper or courgette (zucchini)
  8. Frozen baby spinach or very tender chard
  9. Bags of rocket
  10. Crushed garlic – to save time, it’s worth peeling & crushing & freezing in tiny portions

I am not precious about what pasta I use with each sauce … it’s whatever I’ve got … but as a general rule I think tomato sauce best with spaghetti, creamy sauce with tagliatelle and veg with short pasta such as penne.

I do hope you enjoy these as much as I do … if you’re looking for more fabulous Italian inspired food do check out all the brilliant links from other bloggers at the bottom of this post …

1. Cottage Cheese, Yoghurt, Creme Fraiche or Ricotta with Baby Spinach, Rocket or Chard

Lightly steam wilt spinach or rocket for less than a minute in a sieve over the pasta pan. Chard needs a little longer & needs to be very tender. Drain pasta & stir everything together in the pan with lots of black pepper. So simple but yummy & a fully balanced meal.

2. Super Quick Mushroom & White Wine Sauce

Gently fry crushed garlic in butter, add chopped mushrooms & cook at a high temperature for 2 to 3 minutes. Season & squirt in a dollop of tomato puree plus any fresh herbs you have. Add half a small glass of white wine. Let it boil up on same high temperature for a few more minutes. Stir into pasta.

3. Marinated Cherry or Plum Tomato 

Ideally done in at breakfast time but takes less than 10 minutes to prepare. Marinate chopped cherry or plum tomatoes (with seeds squeezed out) in marinade of olive oil, red wine & balsamic vinegar and basil leaves. When pasta cooked, drain & then chuck everything back in the pasta pan. Stir up for a minute on high heat.

4. Marinated Cherry or Plum Tomato with Olives & Capers

Just add pre-stoned olives & rinsed capers to the marinade above.

5. Marinated Tomato with Ricotta

Marinate chopped cherry or plum tomatoes with crushed garlic, seasoned oil. When pasta cooked heat tomato marinade on low heat stir in pasta & then ricotta.

6. Capers, Pine Nuts & Preserved Vegetables

This is brilliant if you’ve got preserved peppers, courgettes (zucchini) or aubergine (eggplant). Fry crushed garlic in oil. Add vegetables plus squirt of tomato puree plus any of the following you have: pine nuts, olives, capers, dried chilli. As the vegetables already cooked only needs 3 or 4 minutes in the pan to mix flavours up. Great with short pasta.

7. Hot, Garlicky Sauce 

Fry sliced garlic in olive oil on low heat, crumble in dry chillies. Squeeze in lemon juice if got it but not essential. Stir oil into pasta with fresh parsley if you have it. Great with preserved veg.

8. 5 Minute Tomato Sauce with Anchovies

Fry garlic, crumbled dry chilli & a tin of anchovies in olive oil. Add chopped, de-seeded cherry tomatoes & a little water and cook on a high heat for a few minutes. Stir into pasta with fresh parsley, basil or whatever Italian-ish herb you have.

9. Anchovies & Red Peppers

Either preserved or frozen roasted red peppers work in this. Fry crushed garlic, crumbled dried chilli & peppers in olive oil on a low heat. Chuck in a can of anchovies and mush them around. Good with spaghetti or other long pasta.

10. Sicilian Sardines, Pine Nuts & Dried Fruit

Soften crushed garlic in olive oil, chuck in tin of sardines & fry for a few minutes. Add a handful of raisins (steal some of your kids small soft ones so they don’t need soaking) or currants or sultanas if that’s what you’ve got. Toast pine nuts under the grill. Stir everything into pasta.

11. Courgette & Mussels

Fry finely sliced courgette (zucchini) for a few minutes in olive oil. Bung in crushed garlic, crumbled dry chilli & mussels from can or jar. Cook for a few more minutes & stir into pasta with herb of choice.

12. Garlicky Mussels in White Wine

Lightly soften crushed garlic in half oil, half melted butter. Add tin or jar of mussels and a small glass of white wine on high heat until quite a bit of liquid bubbled away. On very low heat stir in a dollop or so (half a cup ish) of double cream. Add the drained pasta.

13. Hot Fig Cream Sauce

Figs not something I just have in house but this recipe from the River Care is worth remembering if you’re passing the green grocers before lunch and see figs going cheap.

Fry a couple of roughly chopped figs in a hot pan of olive oil, flipping them as soon as they go in. Sprinkle with crumbled dry chilli. Stir juice & zest of a lemon into 50 ml / half a cup of double cream and stir into pasta. Serve with figs on top.

14. Pesto, Toasted Pine Nuts & Baby Spinach

Toast some pine nuts & stir into pasta with warmed pesto and ever so slightly warmed baby spinach leaves.

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Luci

Luci

Hello, I'm Luci, Editor of Mums Make Lists. MML is full of creative tips I’ve put together to bring calm and balance to the lives of busy mums and their families.

6 thoughts on “Quick pasta lunches for busy mothers”

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this great post at the In and Out of the Kitchen LInk party. Your post was the most clicked and will be featured at the party and in the Top 10 Favorites post that goes live Monday morning.

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