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By rmorreale

3 easy pasta dishes to make with items in your pantry

Balancing any combination of work, family, and home can sometimes feel daunting. There is nothing more disappointing than coming home after a long day at work and being met with an empty refrigerator, making dinner options seem dismal and slim. The most common solutions would usually be to reach into the freezer for an already-made meal or to pick up the phone for delivery. Of course everyone enjoys some Chinese take-out or a frozen pizza if need be, but this article will make other options available. There are many items in the pantry and the refrigerator that get bought and then forgotten about, and there will always be kitchen staples like salt, pepper and boxes of pasta that line a pantry shelf. Now is the opportunity to crack them open and wow yourself and your family with these amazing home-cooked and simple pasta dishes, perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.

1. Cacio e Pepe
Literally translated "cheese and pepper," this simple dish requires just a few ingredients, two of them being, yes, cheese and pepper! The other ingredients are salt, for the boiling water, and olive oil. Butter can be substituted for the oil, but the oil definitely gives the pasta a slight crunch when it gets fried.

Add salt to a pot of water and allow it to boil.
Add the pasta, preferably spaghetti, and stir occasionally until the pasta is tender and the water is at a rolling boil.
In a large frying pan, heat up 3-4 tbsp. of the olive oil.
Working in batches, add some pasta and toss in the oil for about a minute.
Add equal amounts of black pepper and grated cheese to the pan, coating the pasta until the oil is basically all absorbed.
Transfer to a bowl, add some extra cheese and enjoy!

2. Pasta with Tomato Sauce
This recipe might seem like it should have many ingredients, but most of them are common kitchen items. It's quick to make and will have everyone begging for more. What's great about this dish is that you can refrigerate the leftover sauce and have it again during the week.

1 can of tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper
Olive oil, 2-3 tbsp.
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1/4 yellow onion, sliced
Sugar, 3 tbsp.
3 basil leaves (optional)

Heat olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat.
Add onions and cook until almost translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
Add the garlic and stir together until browned.
Pour in sauce carefully and mix.
Add the water and continue stirring.
Add salt, pepper, sugar and basil (optional).
Lower heat and cover, stirring occasionally.

In a separate pot, add water and salt in preparation for the pasta.
The sauce is cooked when it boils, about 20 minutes. Reserve some on the side, then add the pasta to the pot and coat in the sauce.
Serve hot with grated cheese.

3. Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli
Believe it or not, this filling dish calls for minimal ingredients. I personally find frozen broccoli convenient and perfect for this recipe.
3 cloves of garlic, diced
4-5 tbsp. olive oil
1 bag thawed broccoli
4 chicken cutlets cut in strips
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a medium pan.
Add salt and pepper to strips of chicken before putting them in oil.
Mix and fry until chicken is cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Add broccoli and cook with chicken until broccoli is soft.
Add red pepper flakes and some more salt and pepper to taste.
Add the pasta and mix well.
Transfer to a bowl, serve hot and with cheese.


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