All Weeknight Dinners Should Take Under 30 Minutes

Save time in the kitchen, but don't skimp on flavor.
Triptych shows dairy-free pesto, banana blossom tacos, and creamy pasta
Keep weeknight dinners simple with these three easy, but flavorful dinners. | Luce Hosier for LIVEKINDLY; Luce Hosier for LIVEKINDLY; Chelsey Johns for LIVEKINDLY
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Even when we’re so busy that we can only muster 30 minutes on a weeknight to make dinner, we’re rarely ever willing to sacrifice on flavor. Thankfully, time spent on a recipe and how good it tastes aren’t mutually exclusive and these three plant-based recipes are proof.

The banana blossom “fish” tacos with corn salsa are deceptively complex, making use of canned banana blossoms and corn’s convenience. It’s all about the savory, tart, and spicy seasoning here, courtesy of garlic, lime, and chili.

Then, there’s the dairy-free pesto. Swap the freshly grated plant-based parmesan cheese with one that’s premade to cut down on time. Serve this with pasta, or toss it with leftover rice and roasted vegetables for an easy clean-out-the-fridge meal.

Last but not least, is the spinach pasta, which is ready in under 30 minutes and uses silken tofu to elevate the sauce’s texture to divine levels of creaminess. And, you don’t even have to chop and onions or garlic—this recipe makes use of spice cabinet staples. Let’s not waste any more time: here are three easy plant-based weeknight dinners that we fall back on whenever life gets busy: 

Photo shows vegan fish tacos topped with corn salsa
Banana blossoms are popular in Southeast Asian cuisine, where they’re used whole, but they shine in vegan fish recipes. | Stephanie Evans for LIVEKINDLY

Plant-based ‘fish’ tacos

The unique, pull-apart texture of banana blossoms makes for a surprisingly fish-like texture.

Banana blossom tacos with corn salsa

By LIVEKINDLY

Yields 2
Vegan
Vegetarian
Dairy-Free

Ingredients

For the banana blossoms

  • 1 14.5-ounce can banana blossom, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegan butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1/2 green chilli, minced (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegan fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon nori flakes
  • 3/4 cup canned sweetcorn
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
  • 1-2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 cup vine tomatoes, finely  chopped
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, finely chopped

For serving

  • 6 soft taco shells

Preparation

  1. 1
    Make the marinade for the banana blossom “fish” by mixing together the dairy-free butter, lime juice, garlic, chilli, vegan fish sauce, and nori in a bowl.
  2. 2
    Using a fork, tear apart the banana blossom to form thin strips. Add to the marinade and toss, combining thoroughly.
  3. 3
    Place on a baking tray and cook in a pre-heated oven at 390 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, until slightly crisp and fragrant.
  4. 4
    Meanwhile, make the corn salsa by combining all ingredients in a bowl and tossing thoroughly.
  5. 5
    Once the banana blossom is done, remove it from the oven. Briefly warm the tortillas in the microwave for 10-20 seconds. Serve with banana blossoms and corn salsa.

Photo shows a bowl of basil pesto topped with pine nuts
This easy vegan pesto takes everything it touches to the next level. | Lucie Hosier for LIVEKINDLY

Homemade dairy-free pesto

All you need is a blender and roughly 10 minutes to throw this simple, versatile pesto together. Use it for pasta, leftover rice, or toss it with roasted seasonal veggies for a delicious grain bowl.

Homemade vegan pesto

By LIVEKINDLY

10 mins to prep

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1.7 ounces pine nuts
  • Large bunch of fresh basil
  • 0.5 ounces vegan parmesan, grated
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Half a lemon, juiced

Preparation

  1. 1
    Add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend until the spinach and basil leaves have completely broken down. Store in an airtight container and consume within 5 days.

Photo shows a bowl of pasta shells topped with baby spinach leaves
A silky, dairy-free spinach sauce elevates the weeknight dinner hero that is pasta. | Chelsey Johns for LIVEKINDLY

The creamiest spinach pasta

When in doubt about what to make, choose pasta. This rich, creamy dish is packed with plenty of carbs and healthy greens.

Creamy spinach pasta

By LIVEKINDLY

10 mins to prep
20 mins to cook
Yields 4
Vegan
Vegetarian
Dairy-Free

Ingredients

  • 1.1 lbs. pasta shells
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1.3 lbs. silken tofu
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons porcini powder (optional)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 lb. baby spinach leaves, shredded
  • 2 handfuls fresh basil, shredded

Preparation

  1. 1
    Fill a large pot with water, add a pinch of salt, and bring to the boil before adding the pasta shells. Cook until al dente.
  2. 2
    While the pasta is cooking, combine the tofu, soy milk, garlic powder, onion powder, porcini powder, nutritional yeast, and some salt and pepper in a blender. Combine until smooth.
  3. 3
    When the pasta is cooked, drain and return the pot to the heat.
  4. 4
    Add the oil, baby spinach leaves, and basil to the pot and stir gently until it has wilted.
  5. 5
    Reduce to a medium-high heat and add the creamy mixture, stirring until it starts to boil.
  6. 6
    Add the pasta and stir through before serving with some extra nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper.
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