It’s 5:30, everyone’s hungry and there’s nothing for dinner. Sound familiar? Don’t panic. Thanks to a recent copy of Martha Stewart magazine I have discovered an amazing Italian secret: one pot pasta. If you have a few basic ingredients, a pot and about 20 minutes, you’ve got dinner. And a delicious dinner at that! Resist the urge to call Italy and demand to know why you weren’t told sooner.
The original recipe calls for just onion and garlic sliced very thin, some fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, a little olive oil and 12 oz. of linguine. I have never used linguine but it seems like almost any style of pasta will work. I’ve used rotelli, mini penne, shells, just whatever I had on hand and they’ve all worked great. You simply throw all the ingredients into a pan of water, toss frequently for a whole 9 minutes and it’s done. Did I mention no draining? And that it makes it’s own sauce? And that it’s endlessly customizable? How have I gone my whole life without knowing about this? Seriously, Italy?! Seriously?!
The first time I make a recipe I always follow it exactly just so I know what I’m dealing with. And in it’s original form this one-pot pasta is divine. I have since made lots of variations of it and a little creativity has made it even better and a different meal every time. Do you like mushrooms? Add six or seven. Don’t have cherry tomatoes, cut up a couple romas or a beefsteak. Or leave them out. Sometimes we add spinach, or zucchini, or Kalamata olives, or red peppers or any combination of those. A few splashes of milk or cream and a little butter turns it into an Alfredo pasta. Yum!
We also like to add a protein (chicken, steak, salami, bacon, shrimp) but always add it, already cooked, at the end of the cooking process. This is a great use for leftover meat in your fridge (last night we used a couple of leftover bratwurst) and I often freeze small portions of cooked meat just to have on hand for this recipe. That keeps the one pot pasta to just one pot which is kinda the point.
Everyone in my family devours this pasta. Last night one of my teenagers ate two bowls and the other one ate three. It’s so easy that all three of my boys are learning how to make it (and having lots of opinions about what to add). It will definitely be added to their “going off to college” recipe books although by then they should all have the recipe memorized. Buon Appetito!
One Pot Pasta
4 1/2 c. water
12 oz. linguine
12 oz. cherry tomatoes-halved
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional, I like 1/4 tsp.)
3 sprigs fresh basil (about 15 leaves) cut into ribbons
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. salt
pepper (a few generous grinds or 1/2 tsp.)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Combine water, pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large, straight-sided skillet. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn heat down to medium, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes. Toss in a little more olive oil before serving if desired.
Serve with lots of Parmesan cheese for sprinkling.
Serves 6 generously (unless you have teenage boys, then it serves 5).