Saturday, June 1, 2013

Easy One-Pot Pasta {Recipe & Cooking Method}


Now this...

This is some killer pasta.

Before I climb too high up my soapbox about this, kudos goes to Donna at Apron Strings for introducing this revolutionary cooking method to me (and hopefully about a billion others). Originally, this recipe/cooking method comes from Martha Stewart.

This pasta is Easy. Inexpensive. Healthy. Knock-Your-Socks-Off Delicious. Takes about 20 minutes... and it cooks up amazing pasta with homemade sauce in only ONE pot (can I get an "Amen"?)

Many people recognize that slow cookers make life and dinner time so much easier. You throw the ingredients together in the morning... your home smells delicious all day... dinner is hot and ready when you are.

Well, if you're like me, there are days when dinner time approaches, and you wish you'd had the foresight to stick something in the slow cooker earlier in the day.

But at 5:00 p.m. the slow cooker isn't going to do you a lick of good.

Enter this one-pot pasta. A complete, healthy meal ready in 20 MINUTES, with the ingredients cooked all together just like they would be in the slow cooker.

TA DA!!!

Now, as you regular readers know, my (fabulous, handsome, stellar) husband is currently finishing up his medical residency. We are counting down the days (27) to no more 30-hour shifts, no more weekends without Daddy, and no more overly excessive job related stress. June 28th can't get here soon enough!

Along with his regular clinic schedule, every third day for the last month, he's had to be at the hospital around 7:30 a.m., and then he's gotten home the next day around lunch time. Being utterly exhausted, he crashes till dinner is ready.

Today is his LAST day of that nonsense schedule.

So... you can imagine that with my husband gone every third night, I haven't made a lot of "real" dinners lately.

PB & J... Bean Burritos... Cheese Quesadillas... you get the idea. I tend to have a hard time whipping up a nice dinner when it's just me and three kidlets who'd just as soon eat scrambled eggs as lasagna.

I decided to give this one-pot pasta cooking method a go when my girls requested cheese quesadillas for the third time in one week. My pregnant self was NOT up for that again.

So, into a pot went: water, spaghetti noodles, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, spinach, garlic, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, olive oil, salt, and pepper. I wished upon a star for fresh mushrooms to appear in my fridge, but you can guess how well that worked out.

20 minutes later, magic occurred, and I was utterly smitten by this pasta:

Angels sang. The room seemed to brighten. Tears came to my eyes... and I couldn't wipe the grin off my face.

(Confession: I may have had children's church music playing, and my second daughter may have chosen to shine a mini flashlight directly in my face across the dinner table, BUT... the smile was all about the pasta.)

And because I didn't blend the tomatoes and spinach in the blender, OR finely dice the bell pepper, OR mince the onion to oblivion, the kiddos only picked at it... which meant I got to enjoy it for days afterward. It was mine... alllll mine...

What?! You think I planned it that way?!... What kind of mother do you think I...


Anyway, it was divine. The best meal I've enjoyed in a long time. And, okay, next time I'll be unselfish and make it more kid friendly by adding chicken, and pulverizing the vegetables into an unrecognizable state.

One of the coolest things about this recipe is that you can easily alter it to your taste.

I used dry spaghetti. You could use rotini, linguine or any other pasta.

I used salted water. You could use chicken broth or vegetable stock.

I used canned tomatoes and dried herbs because I didn't have fresh ones. (I cannot adequately convey to you how excited I am to make this with vegetables and herbs fresh from the garden.) You can use whatever variety of veggies/herbs you like!

I didn't use meat. You could use chicken, bacon, mini meatballs, etc., and garnish it with parmesan cheese and fresh herbs.

The list goes on. You simply MUST give this pasta a try...

I dare you not to love it!

Easy One-Pot Pasta - from Donna at Apron Strings
Printable Version

*Makes 6 adult-sized servings

12 oz. dry spaghetti
4 cups lightly salted water
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 medium sweet onion (julienned)
2 cups spinach
1 medium green bell pepper (diced)
2 tsp. jarred minced garlic (or 4 cloves minced)
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flake (opt.)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients (except the extra salt and pepper) in a large stock pot.

Cover, and bring to a boil. (If your pot isn't big enough, like mine, cover the pot when the pasta has softened sufficiently to fit inside.)

Stir, and reduce the heat to low. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of your pasta, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente.

Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow the pasta to sit for 5 minutes. There will be a small amount of liquid remaining in the pot. Toss the pasta to coat with the liquid. As it cools, the liquid will thicken into a sauce-like consistency due to the starch from the pasta.

Serve hot. Garnish as desired with parmesan cheese and fresh herbs.


  1. This is actually a Martha Stewart method/recipe.

    1. Noted. Thanks for letting me know! I've updated my post. :)

  2. I'm the world's worst cook, but I think I could pull this off! Thanks for the recipe! I'm going to try it on my family of 5 this week!

  3. What an idea! Clever. I'm excited to give this a cry. And congrats to your husband on the end of residency - and you as well for supporting him through it all!

  4. That looks really good and fancy. I'll have to see what we have around the house and give it a try this week. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I tried this the other night and we really enjoyed it. My kids are both much, much older than your children, and they were fine with the veggies. I also added about 6 sliced baby bella mushrooms because I had some on hand. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  6. This is a lovely recipe - I can't imagine cooking pasta any other way again now. So long as you've got 3oz of pasta, and 1 cup of water per person you can put in whatever else you like - asparagus and mushroom have worked wonderfully, as has adding a splash of cream at the end. I don't bother putting a lid on at all, and don't bother letting it stand, and reckon I can get it down to 12 minutes easily ;)

  7. If I were to pulverize the tomatoes/veggies, will this effect the water content at all?

    1. Hi Allison,

      I noticed no great difference with pulverized vs. non-pulverized veggies. You should be fine! I think the thing I found that affected this dish the most was the pasta I used. I tried it with linguini noodles, and noticed that it soaked up a little more of the liquid that the spaghetti noodles did, even though I used the "same amount" ounce to ounce. It's one of those recipes you can play with a little bit to get it to you liking. Good luck!

  8. This sounds amazing and super easy. I really love cooking but dislike washing dishes. So, this 1 pot wonder is perfect for me. :D Can't wait to try it.

  9. That is really interesting. I love one pot dishes, and, since i don't have a slowcooker (it is not a thing in our coutry), i had to adapt, but i have a lot of recipes that require only one single pan.

  10. I made this for dinner using whole wheat pasta and it come out great! I thought the pasta would get all stuck together but it wasn't. So awesome. I saw this recipe first on a swagbucks video but couldn't believe it would actually work. Now I know better! Thanks!

  11. Tried this tonight after getting home late and realising my pasta pot needed to be cleaned before tea, in an attempt to save time (and leave dishwashing off for a further hour.. Or two) i decided to use your recipe as a base guideline and create a one pot spag with ingredients i had on hand. I browned up 500gms of mince, without oil in a nonstick frypan then added 3 cups of water, a jar of five brothers summer tomato and basil pasta sauce, tin of crushed tomato and 350gms of pasta strands snapped in half then boiled uncovered for roughly 15 minutes (no lid available) then simmered for between 15-20 minutes. With parmesan it was delish, next time i would love to try it with spinach n other vegies :) if only my family wasn't so damn picky. Ham would go great too.

  12. I made this and it turned out alright. I might make it again if I'm really short on time, but with modification. I use chicken stock in it to give it more depth as far as taste goes.
    It's not my favorite dish of all time, but it still is pretty good and pretty healthy and - most importantly - very easy.

  13. Such cooking pasta is very economical. And I do not have to wash a lot of dishes for the cook. I want to try to cook this recipe even today.

  14. We love this dish! I use extra spinach in place of the basil and chicken broth in place of the water. I omit the red pepper flakes but if you use the spicy red pepper tomatoes you won't be disapointed! They give it just a little kick and all my kids eat it. I also add large shrimp at the end (which I've seasoned a little and precooked in butter, drained) Serve with garlic bread and oh man! A simple dish you will return to over and over!

  15. This is one of our favorite meals. I agree that it is perfect for those days when you wish you'd put dinner in the crockpot! :) We always use chicken stock/broth in place of the water. Yum!

  16. I will keep that in mind. Your ideas are really amazing! Thank you for the tips!

  17. That looks really good and fancy. .......

  18. I made this using grape seed oil... Very yummy outcome, higher flash point. YUMMMMMM!


  19. That looks so good. I'm gonna have to try this!


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