Easy Recipes with Five Ingredients or Less: Tomato Cream Penne


Sarah Fischer/Northern Star

By Sarah Fischer

Attention all college chefs, repeat after me:


“There is no reason why a [potentially] broke college student like myself shouldn’t enjoy the splendors of a delicious, home-cooked meal at a price I can afford.”


Yes, it’s a mouthful, but the sooner you commit those words to memory, the sooner you’ll be able to say goodbye to boring, basic college eats and hello to gourmet delight. I, like many of you, am limited on space in my studio apartment kitchen, and there are at least two things to consider in our situation: price and space. We’ve all seen those recipes with an ingredient list as long as the piece of paper it’s printed on. The price of those ingredients adds, up and there’s just no room in those cabinets around all the Ramen and mac and cheese.


Now, you don’t need to worry about producing the highest quality food that’ll impress professional chefs from all over the world. However, anyone living with limited space shouldn’t have to sacrifice the quality of their meals. You have the ability to make delicious food with limited ingredients. This time, you are the chef. Over the next few weeks, I’ll provide you with easy and delicious recipes that require five primary ingredients or less:


Tomato Cream Pasta

Start to finish: 25-30 minutes

Servings: 2-4

Frozen onions, chopped

28-ounce can of tomato sauce

1 box of penne rigate pasta

6 teaspoons (or 6 packets) of sugar

1 cup (8 ounces) of heavy whipping cream


[Optional, not pictured]

1 chicken breast

Parmesan, grated

Garlic, minced

Olive oil


**All ingredients purchased at:


975 S. Annie Glidden Rd.

DeKalb, IL 60115

Sarah Fischer/Northern Star


Start off with a large stovetop pan over medium heat deep enough to hold the sauce.

Sarah Fischer/Northern Star

Pour in a small portion of the bag of frozen onions. I use the PictSweet Farms chopped onions from Schnucks ($1.99 or 10 for $10), and each bag holds 2 medium onions. However, a little onion goes a long way. If you prefer to use fresh onions, sauté them over a small amount of olive oil.


Sarah Fischer/Northern Star

Sauté the onions for a few minutes until the vegetable is fully thawed then pour in the tomato sauce. I used Schnucks brand tomato sauce ($1.29 on sale, regular price $1.49).

Sarah Fischer/Northern Star

Stir until the ingredients are mixed together then turn the stove heat down to between low and medium (the sauce will burn in the middle if the heat is too high). After, cover and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you don’t have a proper lid for your pan or pot, a pizza pan works just fine for covering.

Sarah Fischer/Northern Star

**Note: after about 5 minutes, start boiling the water for the pasta and cook according to the directions. This way, the sauce and the noodles will be done around the same time. I like to use penne pasta because it soaks up the sauce nicely, but any favorite pasta will do. I use Schnucks brand penne rigate noodles (89 cents on sale, regular price $1.19).


Once the sauce is lightly boiling, throw in 6 teaspoons (or 6 packets) of sugar and mix it in. The sugar offsets the acidity of the tomato sauce. I use C&H pure cane sugar packets from Schnucks ($4.49 for 1 box). I like to use packets because they don’t require measuring and can be used for other things like coffee or tea.


After 20 minutes of cooking the sauce, pour in 1 cup (8 ounces) of heavy cream to cook for the last five minutes. I use the smallest 8-ounce carton of heavy whipping cream from Schnucks ($2.19). This way, there’s no measuring involved.

Sarah Fischer/Northern Star


Stir in the cream until the sauce turns an even, light orange color. This is a good time to add in any extras you feel it may need. I like to use grated Parmesan to add a sharper flavor, but it’s not necessary.

**Note: For a spicier version of this sauce, you can add in crushed red pepper, paprika or any other favorite seasonings until it reaches the desired spiciness.

Sarah Fischer/Northern Star

[Sauce with added grated Parmesan]

Sarah Fischer/Northern Star

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir until it’s evenly mixed together.

Sarah Fischer/Northern Star

Sarah Fischer/Northern Star

**Note: Chicken is a great addition to this dish, but not necessary.

[Pasta and sauce with chicken added]

Sarah Fischer/Northern Star

Ready to Eat!


Sarah Fischer/Northern Star