There’s no mystery why one-pot recipes are big hits with home cooks: they’re low on dishes and effort, but big on flavor. But here’s a secret: you don’t need to stick to a set-in-stone recipe to make one of these ultra-simple dishes—really! We’ve cracked the code on how to build a one pot pasta that uses up ingredients you have on hand, with no trip to the store necessary.
For a one pot pasta dinner, you need 1 to 1 1/4 pounds of protein, 1 1/2 to 2 cups of long-cooking vegetables, 1 container (32 oz) Progresso chicken broth, either 1 can (14.5 oz) Muir Glen organic fire-roasted crushed tomatoes or 1 cup of heavy cream and 12 ounces of pasta, 1/2 to 1 cup of short-cooking vegetables, and your choice of extras like cheese, herbs and panko bread crumbs.
Here’s how to put it all together:
Once you’ve got your ingredients gathered, it’s time to get cooking. Use these guidelines that apply no matter what’s going in the pot:
- Brown your selected protein in 1 to 2 tablespoons of cooking fat with salt and pepper.
- Add your selected long-cooking vegetables and cook until they’re browned and/or softened.
- Stir in your broth, additional liquid and pasta. Simmer and stir often until the pasta is cooked through and the sauce thickens.
- Stir in your short-cooking vegetables and cheese and herbs if using.
- If using panko bread crumbs, top the finished pasta with them, without stirring them in.
Familiarize yourself with these tips and you’ll be on your way to making foolproof one-pots every time:
- Stirring is crucial, especially toward the end of cooking, when the cooking liquid has reduced into a sauce. If you don’t keep stirring, the sauce can stick and burn.
- Using extra-lean ground beef (at least 90% lean) is a good idea because you won’t need to drain oil from a hot, heavy pot.
- Smaller pasta shapes generally perform best in one-pot pastas. Spaghetti or fettuccine can work too, but we advise breaking them in half before adding; they’ll be easier to incorporate.
- Angel hair pasta is too delicate for one-pot pastas—it ends up gummy.
- For one-pot pastas, the pasta cooks in a flavorful liquid and thickens it as well. The cooking liquid turns into a sauce, so there’s no need to drain the pasta!