Photo: OWN/Harpo Studios

The Foolproof Risotto
Actress Lauren Tewes proves that risotto doesn't have to be a complicated undertaking worthy only of culinary gurus, and that the meal can come together in just a half hour. The best part about the rice dish (aside from its speedy prep and overall deliciousness) is that there are a million ways to make it. You can use almost any combination of broth and fresh herbs, from crab broth and cilantro, to beef broth and sage.

Get the recipe: Lauren Tewes' Simple but Delicious Risotto

Photo: Fred Minnick

The No-Noodle Lasagna
Frozen ravioli and jarred spaghetti sauce are the secrets to this cheater's version of the ultimate Italian-American casserole. Although this recipe makes mini lasagne, which are perfect for a party, you can also use an 8-by-8-inch baking dish and serve the meal family style. Start by spreading sauce on the bottom and then cover it with a layer of ravioli, followed by the ricotta mix, mozzarella and more sauce. Repeat until you're out of ingredients, and bake until bubbly.

Get the recipe: Ravioli Lasagna
Mini pizzas

Photo: Thinkstock

Mini Pizzas (That Don't Involve English Muffins)
Pizzettes are bite-size pizzas, and if you use store-bought dough, they're a fantastic, stress-free supper when paired with a big salad. Gorgonzola and sweet cherry tomatoes are just a little different from the usual margherita. You could also try grated Fontina cheese, chopped mushrooms and prosciutto, or coarse sea salt, extra-virgin olive oil and fresh rosemary.

Get the recipe: Pizzettes with Gorgonzola, Tomato and Basil
Veggies and pasta

Photo: Thinkstock

29-Minute Pasta and Veggies
When you open the fridge to find vegetables that are probably one day past their prime, make this fast dinner that involves quick-roasting grape tomatoes, zucchini, asparagus or whatever else you have, in a 500-degree oven. The high temperature concentrates their flavors and renders them soft and caramelized. Toss them with pasta, some of the cooking water and grated Parmesan.

Get the recipe: Hail Mary Pasta
Beef Meatballs

Photo: Con Poulos

No-Mess Meatballs with a Surprise Ingredient
A great meatball doesn't have to be complicated. This recipe's ingredient list is surprisingly short, but one key component—fresh ricotta cheese—makes all the difference, giving the balls a uniquely light texture. Baking them instead of frying in olive oil means cleanup is a breeze too.

Get the recipe: Beef Meatballs
Spaghetti Pie

Photo: Benchmarc Restaurants

Spaghetti You Eat Like Pizza
This whimsical creation is an Italian twist on classic mac 'n' cheese, combining cooked spaghetti, eggs and four cheeses. Instead of piling everything into a casserole dish and baking for an hour, you pan-fry it in a nonstick pan for 10 minutes. Then you turn the pie out onto a cutting board and slice it into crispy-on-the-outside, cheesy-on-the-inside wedges using a pizza cutter.

Get the recipe: Cheesy Spaghetti Pie
Chicken soup

Photo: Thinkstock

Chicken Soup, Italian Style
Old-fashioned versions of chicken soup can take hours, but this Italian-accented one comes together in 30 minutes. Pantry staples such as canned tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, rotini pasta and dried basil and oregano provide a flavorful base, and fresh ground chicken adds substance without weighing the soup down.

Get the recipe: Luther's Italian Chicken Soup

Next: 9 last-minute dinner ideas