Your Weeknight Meal Planner: 8-Ingredient Recipes

Get inspired for the week ahead with our top picks from this week’s menu.

Wow… it’s August already? Please say you feel just as surprised by this as we do—really, it feels like just yesterday that we were planning a slew of long weekends and beach days while our neighbors set off the last of their extra fireworks. But thankfully, it’s no time to freak out, as we’re guaranteed at least four more warm and sunny weeks, if not all of September, too. So August, month number eight, we salute you with simple dinners that require just eight ingredients.

Set the dinner bell for 8PM and you’ll really be in the spirit. Now, on to the recipes!

Caprese Chicken Salad

Monday: Caprese Chicken Salad

(Serves 4)

1 pint grape tomatoes
¼ ounce basil
2 lemons
8 ounces fresh mozzarella
4 boneless skin-on chicken breasts
8 ounces baby spinach
3 tablespoons roasted sunflower seeds
1½ tablespoons balsamic glaze

Cooking with a helper tonight? They can tear the mozzarella and prepare the marinade in Step 1, thenwhisk the dressing in Step 3 and toss the salad in Step 6.

1. Rinse all produce. Halve half of grape tomatoes (leave remainder whole for Step 4). Roughly chop basil leaves, discarding stems. Halve lemons. Tear mozzarella into bite-size pieces. In a large bowl (big enough for salad), mix together basil, mozzarella, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and ½ teaspoon salt to combine. Set aside to marinate at room temperature.

2. Pat chicken very dry with paper towel (this will help the skin crisp up in the pan) and season all over with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add chicken skin-side down and sear until skin is golden and easily lifts from pan, 5–7 minutes (it will finish cooking in Step 4).

3. While chicken sears, using a slotted spoon, remove mozzarella from basil oil and transfer to a small bowl. When removing the mozzarella from the basil oil, try to drain off as much oil as possible. Don’t worry if some basil sticks to the cheese, though— this will only make it more flavorful! To bowl with basil oil, add juice of 1½ lemons and 2 tablespoon olive oil and whisk to combine. Pat spinach dry with paper towel and add to bowl, along with halved tomatoes, waiting to toss until ready to serve.

4. Once skin is golden, flip chicken, still over medium-high heat. Cook for 3 minutes, then scatter around whole grape tomatoes in pan. Cook, stirring tomatoes, until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink and tomatoes are softened and blistered, 2– 4 minutes more. Transfer chicken and tomatoes to a plate and set aside to rest for about 5 minutes. Rinse pan and wipe clean for the next step.

5. While chicken rests, return pan to medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. When oil is shimmering, add sunflower seeds and cook, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until golden brown and fragrant, 2–3 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

6. Cut rested chicken into ¼-inch slices. Toss spinach salad and divide among serving plates. Top with sliced chicken, then scatter around sautéed tomatoes, marinated mozzarella, and toasted sunflower seeds. Drizzle over balsamic glaze.

Smoked Salmon linguine

Tuesday: Smoked Salmon Linguine

(Serves 4)

12 ounces asparagus
¼ ounce basil
2 cloves garlic
1 pound linguine
1 lemon
6 ounces smoked salmon
½ cup peas
8 ounces mascarpone cheese

Call in an eager helper to make this even easier! They can pick the basil leaves in Step 1, tear the smoked salmon in Step 3, then dollop mascarpone over the final plates and garnish with basil in Step 6.

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Rinse all produce. Trim and discard woody bottoms of asparagus, then cut crosswise on a diagonal into 1- inch pieces. Thinly slice basil leaves, discarding stems. Mince garlic.

2. Season boiling water generously with salt. Stir in linguine and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain linguine and return to pot, off heat.

3. While pasta cooks, if you have a zester and want to infuse your pasta with even more flavor, zest up to whole lemon, then halve. Tear smoked salmon into 1-inch pieces.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add garlic and sauté, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add peas and asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and bright green, 2–3 minutes more. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Remove pan from heat.

5. To pot with linguine, still off heat, stir in lemon zest (if using), juice of 1 lemon, and half of mascarpone. Adding 1 tablespoon at a time, stir in reserved pasta cooking water until sauce is silky and clings to noodles. Starchy pasta cooking water will give your sauce a perfect consistency and help it cling to the noodles. Keep adding it until the sauce is silky—you might need more than you think. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper as desired.

6. Divide linguine among shallow serving bowls. Scatter over smoked salmon and top with vegetables. Dollop over remaining mascarpone, then garnish with basil and pepper as desired.

Seared Steak

Wednesday: Seared Steak

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1¼ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
2 yellow onions
2 cloves garlic
4 steaks
4 ounces heavy cream
8 ounces baby spinach
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese

Cooking with a helper tonight? They can season the steak in Step 3 and mash the Parmesan butter in Step 5.

1. Rinse all produce. Unwrap butter packets and place in a small bowl to soften at room temperature (we recommend at least 10 minutes). Cut potatoes into ¼-inch cubes. Peel onions, halve, and thinly slice. Mince garlic.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until light brown and softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and ½ cup water and cook, stirring, until onion is golden and water has evaporated, 4–5 minutes more. It may seem counterintuitive to add water to the pan with the onion, but the liquid actually helps to slow cooking so the onion softens without burning. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and transfer to a plate. Reserve pan, off heat, for Step 4.

3. While onions caramelize, pat steaks dry with paper towel and season all over with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a separate large pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add steaks and sear, working in batches and adding oil as needed, until browned and medium-rare, 4–6 minutes per side. Transfer steaks to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

4. Return pan from onions to medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil. When oil is shimmering, carefully add potatoes (stand back in case hot oil splatters); fry in a single layer, without moving, until golden on bottom, 5–6 minutes. Gently stir potatoes and continue cooking until golden brown all over and tender, 5–6 minutes more. Reduce heat to medium.

5. To pan with potatoes, still over medium heat, add heavy cream and caramelized onions; simmer until slightly thickened, 1–2 minutes. Pat spinach dry with paper towel and add to pan, along with half of Parmesan. Toss until just wilted, 1 minute more. Remove pan from heat; season with ¾ teaspoon salt and pepper. To bowl with softened butter, add remaining Parmesan, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired. Mash with a fork until fully combined.

6. Cut steaks against the grain into ¼-inch slices. Cutting meat against the grain ensures tenderness. Find the direction of the grain (muscle fibers) and slice across it, rather than parallel. Divide creamed spinach and potatoes among serving plates. Place sliced steak over top and dollop with Parmesan butter.

Cacio e Pepe Skillet Pizza

Thursday: Cacio e Pepe Skillet Pizza

(Serves 4)

1½ pounds pizza dough
8 ounces curly kale
1 yellow onion
6 cloves garlic
⅛ ounce thyme
⅔ cup heavy cream
6 ounces shredded mozzarella and provolone cheese blend
4 ounces ricotta cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Remove pizza dough from bag and let soften at room temperature. Pizza dough softens as it warms—the longer you let it sit at room temperature, the easier it’ll be to roll out. We recommend at least 15 minutes, so that once your prep is finished, your dough is good to go. Rinse kale and pat dry with paper towel, then tear leaves into bite-size pieces, discarding stems. Peel onion, halve, and thinly slice. Place whole garlic cloves on a small piece of foil, drizzle over 2 teaspoons olive oil. Bring edges of foil together and seal to form a pouch.

2. On a baking sheet, toss kale with 1½ tablespoons olive oil and transfer to oven. Place garlic pouch on oven rack next to baking sheet. Roast kale until crisp and lightly browned, 9–10 minutes. Remove kale from oven, leaving garlic pouch to continue roasting, about 15 minutes. Toss crispy kale with ¾ teaspoon salt and set aside until ready to serve.

3. While kale and garlic roast, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add thyme and onion. Sauté until soft, 6–8 minutes. Add cream, increase heat to medium-high, and simmer until reduced slightly, 1–2 minutes more. Remove pan from heat. Remove and discard thyme. Stir in cheese blend. Season with salt and a generous amount of pepper. Don’t be afraid to use a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, tasting for your preferred level of spice.

4. While sauce cooks, using your hands, stretch and roll dough into a circular shape the same size as your large ovenproof pan (see recipe tip). Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in pan over medium heat. Working very carefully, add dough and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, without flipping, until bubbles form on top and bottom is golden, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

5. Drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil over dough, being sure to coat edges, and season with ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Spread cheese sauce over dough in an even layer and dollop over ricotta. Remove garlic pouch from oven and carefully open to allow steam to escape. Transfer pizza to oven and bake until crust is golden and cheese is melted, 15–18 minutes.

6. Once cool enough to handle, roughly chop roasted garlic. Remove cacio e pepe skillet pizza from oven and garnish with roasted garlic, kale chips, and pepper as desired. Cut pizza into slices.

Pizza for two? We’ve got you covered at

Orecchiette with Sausage

Friday: Orecchiette and Italian Sausage

Okay, this one has 7 ingredients because it’s Friday, and you deserve to spend even less time getting dinner on the table.

(Serves 4)

12 ounces summer squash
4 tomatoes
¼ ounce sage
1 pound orecchiette
¼ cup unsalted butter
1½ pounds sweet Italian sausage
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Rinse squash and halve lengthwise, then cut crosswise into ½- inch half-moons, discarding ends. Rinse tomatoes and roughly chop. Thinly slice sage leaves, discarding stems. Slice all the sage together. Stack all the picked leaves. Roll the stack up, then cut the roll crosswise into thin slices. Separate them with your fingers, and voilà.

2. Season boiling water generously with salt. Stir in orecchiette and cook until al dente, 8–9 minutes. Reserve 1½ cups pasta cooking water, then drain. While it cooks, pasta will release starches into the boiling water. Adding some reserved pasta water to the sauce will help it cling to the noodles. It’s easiest to reserve this water in a liquid measuring cup, if you have one. Set aside.

3. While orecchiette cooks, heat half of butter in a medium high-sided pan over medium-high heat. When butter is foamy, add squash in a single layer and cook, without moving, until browned on bottom, about 3 minutes. Flip squash and add tomatoes to pan. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and cook until tomatoes are softened and squash is tender, 3 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl and set aside, reserving pan for cooking sausage.

4. Pat sausage dry with paper towel. Wipe pan from vegetables clean and add remaining butter over medium-high heat. When butter is foamy, add sausage and cook, breaking up, until browned, 4–5 minutes. Stir in sage and season with ½ teaspoon salt.

5. Add orecchiette to pan with sausage, reduce heat to medium, and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Add reserved pasta cooking water, 2 tablespoons at a time, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan, until sauce is thick and clings to pasta. Remove pan from heat.

6. Add vegetables and half of Parmesan to pan with orecchiette and stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Divide orecchiette and Italian sausage among serving bowls and sprinkle over remaining Parmesan.

This pasta works great for a smaller crowd, too!

Looking for even simpler, faster summer meals? Check out these 5-ingredient recipes.

Love experimenting in the kitchen? Try Plated!

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