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Once in a while, even chefs come home from work and don’t really want to spend time whipping up something complicated for dinner.

Getting the mail, changing into something comfortable, feeding the pets, and numerous other chores chew up meal prep time to the point where some days you just want to go out for dinner or make something simple.

But the simple convenience of fewer ingredients doesn’t mean you have to compromise taste or give up enjoying everything you love about dishes that have many ingredients. Less is not always less.

On these occasions, you just have to use purchased ingredients that themselves were made from lots of ingredients (but conveniently made just to your tastes), such as your favorite marinara sauce.

So my 5 Ingredient Dinner rules are:

• Prepared sauce or anything out of a box, jar or can counts as a single ingredient.
• Seasonings like salt and pepper, etc. don’t count as ingredients.
• Water is not an ingredient.

Here are 5 examples of dinner meals made from 5 ingredients or less.

All of these recipes feed approximately 2 people.

Penne Pasta with Sausage, Bell Peppers, Onions & Marinara.

• Cook 1 cup penne pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Rinse and set aside.
• In a medium sauté pan, pan-fry 4 links of Nino’s Sweet Italian Sausage links on both sides until medium brown and cooked through. Oil is generally not necessary.
• Cut ½ cup each of bell pepper and sweet onion into julienne strips and add to the pan with the cooked sausage, Sauté together for about 3 minutes on medium heat. Then add the cooked penne pasta and about 1 ½ cups of marinara. Stir while heating all together. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. If you wish to add a 6th ingredient, I suggest a grated cheese.

Teriyaki & Pineapple Pork Tenderloin with Jasmine Rice

• Cook 1 cup of rice in water (per directions on package) and set aside (keeping warm).
• While rice is cooking, cut 1 pork tenderloin into ½” thick slices and gently pound between plastic film (or waxed paper) until they are ¼” thick. Next, pan sear the pork medallions in a medium-size non-stick skillet over medium-high heat with 2 TBSP sesame oil until lightly browned. Add about 2/3 cup of teriyaki sauce to the pan with 1 cup of fresh pineapple cut into 1-inch pieces. Also add an additional TBSP of sesame oil.
• Bring mixture to a simmer and serve over the cooked rice.
• The best 6th ingredient to add to this recipe are flat pea pods that you would sauté with the pork.

Pan-Seared Chicken with Wilted Spinach and Whiskey Sauce

• Cut 6 strips of bacon on the bias into ½” wide strips, and then sauté on medium heat until crisp. Reserve the cooked bacon separately and leave the resulting grease in the pan.
• Pound 2 medium-size boneless, skinless chicken breasts between plastic film (or waxed paper) until ½” thick. Season with salt and pepper, and then sauté the chicken breasts in the bacon grease until fully cooked. Remove the cooked chicken breasts from the pan and keep warm.
• Reserve all grease and juices in the sauté pan, add 1 shot (1/4 Cup) of whiskey or bourbon, and ignite (be cautious).
• Add 2 TBSP of smooth Dijon mustard and the reserved cooked bacon back to the pan, and stir together. Add 2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves and cover with a lid to wilt/steam the spinach for 1 minute only.
• Remove the lid, season with salt and pepper, and divide the spinach between 2 plates, placing a chicken breast on each.
• A suggested 6th ingredient would be some freshly grated/shredded Romano cheese.

Spinach Crusted Salmon with Near East Brand Cous Cous with Broccoli

• Preheat oven to 400 F.
• Stir together ½ cup of Nino’s Spinach Dip with ½ cup Salvaggio Italian Bread Crumbs. Divide this mixture evenly to top two 6- to 8-ounce salmon fillets (about ½” thick). Place on a non-stick baking pan and cook in the pre-heated oven until firm and opaque (about 20 to 30 minutes).
• While salmon is cooking, chop 1 cup of broccoli florets into small pieces.
• Follow the package directions for Near East brand cous cous (I prefer the one with pine nuts), and add in the chopped broccoli when you add the cous cous to the water. Otherwise, follow the directions as stated on the box.
• Portion the cooked, spinach-crusted salmon on a bed of the cous cous.
• A great 6th ingredient for this recipe is Nino’s prepared Palomino Sauce.

My last recipe is a kids’ favorite, and I confess, it’s one of mine as well.

Salvaggio Italian Bread Pizza

Cut a full loaf of unsliced Salvaggio Italian Bread in half end to end. It will only require half of this loaf to make a meal for two. However, no one will complain if you prepare BOTH halves!
• Pre-heat your oven to 400 F.
• Place your cut Italian bread loaf cut side up on a baking pan.
• Spread approximately 1/2 to 2/3 cup of Nino’s Marketplace Pizza Sauce on the surface, and top with 1 cup+ of shredded mozzarella cheese.
• So far, that’s only 3 ingredients. Choose 2 additional ingredients (or more) for toppings (sliced pepperoni, etc.).

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