20 minute dinner: Pasta with creamy marinara sauce

In fact, I whipped this up in 15. I loved it. My son loved it. My daughter refused to taste it.


Finely chop 1/2 an onion and 1/2 a carrot. Saute in olive oil till soft. Add one can of italian-style chopped tomatoes (I used S&W), a pinch of dried thyme, a pinch of dried marjoram, a bit of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes (or longer, if you have the time), remove from heat. Roughly puree the sauce with an immersion blender, then stir in 1 T. heavy cream and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Serve over cooked pasta (we like Barilla Pasta Plus), ideally with a side salad. It was just the kids and me, so we had carrot sticks and clementines.

Other 20 minute dinners:


Get updates from Asha.

I'll email you when I have new writing, events, or news to share. This isn't an automated newsletter -- it's a personal note from me. Low-frequency (I respect your attention & inbox), privacy always, unsubscribe any time.

*indicates required


  1. says

    For a healthier hack, use fat-free or light sour cream instead of the heavy cream. Same creamy mouthfeel, extra added tang (not unlike vodka sauce), fewer calories.

  2. Anonymous says

    This sounds yummy. I’ll have to try it. When I need a really fast dinner, I typically turn to tacos or omlettes. We almost always have plenty of eggs on hand for omlettes and I just add whatever veggies cheese or meat we have in the fridge as additions. For the tacos, I either brown ground meat or heat up canned beans (black beans and/or pintoes) and then smash them. I add my own mix of spices usually cumin, chilli powder, garlic powder, black pepper and red pepper and a little taco sauce or salsa. I try to keep tortillas on hand all the time and then just pull out cheese and whatever other toppings I’ve got.

  3. Parent Hacks Editor says

    ratphooey: good suggestion. I NEVER just happen to have cream around, but I’m making dinner for some folks this weekend that includes it, so I threw it into the sauce and was amazed by the difference. You can use less than a tablespoon — even just a bit makes a difference.

  4. says

    So this might be a different hack altogether but I found a chocolate pudding recipe that was quick AND easy. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Hasty-Chocolate-Pudding/Detail.aspx
    The comments from readers offer some easy variations and my favorite comment was the one that suggested pouring the pudding into your popsicle maker and freezing it. Just tried a pudding pop and YUM. This could also make a nice holiday gift, instant pudding mix. Or it would have been good to know about this in college! Anyway, hope someone finds it as usefuk as I did!

  5. Alisa says

    Just a thought, most canned tomatoes are very high in sodium (which we know is not good for everyone, especially little ones!), I look for no salt added canned tomatoes and then add salt in moderation.