15-Minute Pasta Dinners the Whole Family Will Love

Each of these dinners will hit the table in a hurry, and every one of them is kid-tested, totally approved.
By: Foodlets
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Photo by: Tara Donne ©FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Tara Donne, FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

We have four small kids, and if there’s one thing I love about serving pasta dinners, it’s how popular they are. Who doesn’t like pasta? Less fussing, more enjoying. That’s a dinnertime ratio I can get behind. But if there are two things to love about pasta dinners, the other is this: Pasta cooks in a flash. Each of these dinners will hit the table in 15 minutes, and every one of them is kid-tested, totally approved.

1. Pasta with Garlic and Broccoli (pictured above): Melissa d’Arabian’s super-fast pasta has a secret step at the end: Deglaze the pan with red wine vinegar. Nothing like scraping up all those tasty bits with a whole lot of zing!

2. One-Pot Lemon Orzo with Cod: Orzo is the quickest-cooking pasta, because it’s so small. But that’s not what makes this dish so fast (or delicious). This is: Add the fish and the peas to the same cooking water and everything will be ready at the same time. Drizzle on a bit of olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon, and dinner is served.

3. Chicken Mozzarella Pasta: With a jar of your favorite store-bought sauce plus fresh mozzarella, Parmesan and basil, it’s hard to beat the flavor — or the ease — of this 5-star recipe from Ree Drummond.

4. Homemade Mac & Cheese, One-Pot Style (pictured above): Freshly grated cheddar cheese, chicken stock and a secret ingredient that rhymes with “sustard” give this one-pot wonder so much flavor you’ll never go back to the powdered stuff.

5. Pasta Puttanesca: This 5-star recipe from the Pioneer Woman uses anchovies, and before you stop reading, I’ll tell you those tiny fish dissolve into your sauce, leaving nothing but irreplaceable flavor behind. Still worried your crew won’t try it? Try the Thumbs Up/Thumbs Middle/Thumbs Down rating system. We use it for all new dishes at our house, and it gives the kids a chance to express themselves without complaining. I say Thumbs Up to that.

6. Creamy Pasta with Chicken & Spinach: Two grocery staples make this cheesy, creamy dish doable in 15 minutes flat: a rotisserie chicken and frozen spinach.

7. Lemony Shrimp ScampiThis classic from Melissa officially takes 20 minutes to prepare, but if you use precooked shrimp, cutting off a few minutes of prep time, we’ll never tell.

8. Penne with Pesto, Basil & Beans: I never knew this combination could be so satisfying, flavorful or lightning-fast for dinner. It's a vegetarian option that’s hearty enough for meat lovers and mild enough for picky eaters.

Charity Curley Mathews is the founder of Foodlets.com: Mini Foodies in the Making…Maybe. A site full of simple, real food ideas for toddlers, kids and families plus all the advice you need for eating together in peace. Usually. She’s a contributor to The Huffington Post, InStyle and eHow. Follow Foodlets on Facebook or Pinterest and you’ll never miss a new recipe or tip.

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