No-prep pasta: Grab ingredients from the grocery salad bar
When the weekend rolls around I often (read: usually) lose my motivation to cook. My solution last weekend: Salad Bar Pasta. Our local grocery store has an amazing salad bar complete with interesting vegies, tuna, olives, artichoke hearts, marinated beans and several cheeses. I tossed a few promising fixins (including plenty of grated Parmesan) into a to-go box, cooked some pasta at home and tossed it all together with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Looked fancy, tasted lovely, good and fresh, relatively cheap, and I barely did a thing. Total cost for the toppings: $4; more than if I were to buy-and-prep but way less than a prepared dinner.
If some of the vegies are cut large, blanch them for a minute or two in the boiling pasta water before tossing.
Mediterranean: Olives, roasted peppers, spinach, tomatoes, feta
Asian: Bean sprouts, carrots, snow peas, green onions, peanuts, sesame oil, soy sauce
Springtime: Asparagus, peas, artichoke hearts, Parmesan