Food & Drink

1 pot, 5 pasta dinners

Seriously: You can even make Fettucine Alfredo using only one pot.
Seriously: You can even make Fettucine Alfredo using only one pot. MCT files

When I need fast, simple, comforting meals, I turn to one-pot pastas. Once you discover them, you won’t believe you haven’t been making them your whole life. Easier than the classic boil-water-and-drop-pasta-in method, one-pot pastas take about 20 minutes from the time the burner gets hot to the time you’re spooning a finished dish onto a plate.

The trick is to combine all of the ingredients in a pot with dry pasta, then cook everything at the same time until the pasta is al dente and the ingredients have formed a sauce. All of these serve 4. Cleanup is even easier.

1. Garlic Parmesan Pasta: Here is a simple Alfredo sauce version of the one-pot pasta. To make four servings: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat. Add 4 minced garlic cloves and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in 2 cups chicken broth, 1 cup milk, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 8 ounces uncooked fettuccine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer and cook until the pasta is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese and more milk if your mixture is too thick. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Serve immediately. From

2. Martha’s Pasta: Martha Stewart helped popularize the one-pot pasta, or as her classic recipe refers to it, the one-pan pasta. She used a large straight-sided skillet; I’ve used a medium or large heavy-bottomed pot with the same results. To make: Combine 12 ounces linguine, 12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes (halved or quartered if large), 1 thinly sliced onion, 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 2 sprigs basil, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and 4 1/2 cups water in your cooking vessel. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, stirring and turning pasta frequently, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh basil and freshly grated Parmesan.

3. Sausage and Mushroom Pasta: This version uses rigatoni instead of long noodles. Use any kind of mushrooms, just make sure they are cut into smaller chunks. You can leave out the sausage to make this vegetarian, though we wouldn’t recommend it. To make: Add a splash of olive oil and 2 or 3 links Italian sausage to a large pot and cook over medium heat until they are browned on the outside. Remove from pot and slice sausage into rounds, then return to the pot and cook until fully browned. To the same pot, add 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, 1 sliced onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, 8 ounces button mushrooms and 1 teaspoon each dried basil and dried oregano. Stir to combine, then add 4 cups vegetable broth and 1 pound rigatoni. Cover the pot, turn the heat up to high and bring the whole thing to a boil. Once it’s boiling, give it a good stir and turn the heat to low; simmer on low about 15 minutes. Stir pretty frequently. After 15 minutes, the pasta should be done and the liquid should be absorbed. If not, cook for a few minutes longer. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Adapted from

4. Pumpkin Pasta: This recipe is made creamy with the addition of pumpkin and goat cheese, which also provides an essential tang. To make: Add 8 ounces linguine, 4 cups vegetable broth, 1 cup pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup white wine (or water), 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 chopped medium onion, 3 or 4 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ? teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to a large, heavy pot. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a rolling boil, then set the timer for 9 minutes. Stir and toss the pasta frequently, especially as it starts to stick to the bottom of the pot. After 9 minutes is up and pasta is tender, crumble in a 4-ounce log of goat cheese and stir gently until combined. Top with a handful of chopped fresh parsley, then serve. From

5. Pasta Primavera: This incorporates a bunch of green vegetables, a fresh way to offset the creamy sauce. Add 4 cups vegetable broth, 8 ounces linguine, 1 small thinly sliced onion, 1 pound broccoli florets (about 2 cups), 1 1/2 pounds asparagus cut into 2-inch pieces, 4 ounces sliced white button mushrooms, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to a large pot set over high heat. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on top and bring to a boil. Set a timer for 7 minutes and toss constantly. When the 7 minutes is up, add 3/4 cup frozen peas, 1 handful chopped fresh parsley leaves, 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese and 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, tossing until the pasta and vegetables are tender. Let sit for a couple of minutes until the liquid thickens. Adapted from