one pan pasta – the easiest midweek dinner

one pan pasta

Last night was our usual frantic mid week evening that started with double swimming lessons, showering two soap-resistant children and battling the changing rooms before coming home with another pile of laundry to add to the existing pile of laundry. I made this easy one pan pasta when we got home and it was on the table in less than 20 minutes, it even gave me time to get the washing machine going mid way through. Lots of you requested the recipe when I posted this on Facebook and Insta so hopefully it helps you on your own hectic nights.

one pan pasta

One pan pasta – a new way of cooking pasta

This way of cooking pasta in the sauce wins on two levels – it saves washing up and the pasta soaks in all sorts of delicious flavour as it cooks in the sauce. Because the pasta cooks in the sauce, no one can tell that you’ve used a brown pasta so it is an easy way to get a few more nutrients into everyone.

One pan pasta is a great child-pleaser and can easily be adapted. Once you’ve made it a couple of times you won’t even need to look at the recipe.

 

You can watch me make it in this short film.

You can switch up this one pan pasta with different proteins

We often have this just with chickpeas (garbanzo beans). If I have a bit more time, we’ll use sausages or chicken.

Make ahead and leftovers

If you want to make this ahead of time, cook through stage 5 but don’t add the basil and cheese. Then set aside for a couple of hours, or in the fridge if you’re leaving it longer. Reheat in the pan, you may need to add a little water when you reheat as the pasta will dry out a little when it is stored.

Let any leftovers cool. Then wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days before reheating until piping hot.

One pan pasta ingredients (serves 4 adults)

2 teaspoons rapeseed or olive  oil

Your choice of protein (see note above):

Either 4-6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs or 4-6 sausages, casings removed – you get what you pay for and the herbier the sausage the better the finished dish. In the US, I like the sausages from the Whole Foods meat counter. Or 1-2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained.

2 whole stems rosemary

4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

quarter teaspoon chilli flakes

800ml (27 fl ounces) Passata or the same volume of canned chopped tomatoes – buy the kind with no added herbs

700ml (3 cups) boiling water

350g (12 ounces) wholemeal penne, brown rice or spelt penne is good here

50ml (quarter cup) milk – any fat % works

A Parmesan rind if you have one

70g (2.5 ounces) grated Parmesan or mature Cheddar cheese

60g (2 ounces) basil, stems finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped

Optional – a couple of handfuls rocket (arugula) or watercress, chopped. Or a coffee cup of frozen peas

Red wine vinegar, sea salt and pepper to taste

Pangratto

Pangratto is an Italian crunchy breadcrumb mixture, it was used instead of Parmesan in many parts of Italy. The recipe below is a bonus and I don’t always have the energy to make it. When I do, it really elevates things and the crunch provides a welcome balance to the comforting texture of the pasta.

Pangratto is a great topping when you want to add crunch to any meal. It is fab on top of a stew or risotto, or on top of green beans or broccoli.

Pangratto ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, unpeeled but squashed with a knife

2 handfuls stale breadcrumbs, you can use them straight from the freezer

1 stem of rosemary

sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, red chilli flakes to taste

To make the one pan pasta:

  1. Heat a 30cm high sided nonstick frying pan on a high heat then add the oil.

If using chicken – Use scissors to snip the chicken thighs into the pan. I like to cut the meat into pieces about as big as my thumb. They should sizzle as they hit the pan. If not, turn the heat up. Once all the chicken is in the pan, scatter a big pinch of salt over the chicken. Leave the chicken pieces without moving for 5 minutes. This gives it chance to get a golden crust but it doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through yet.

If using sausagessqueeze the meat from the casings, straight into the hot pan. Squash flat then leave to cook for 5 minutes without moving so that it develops a nice golden crust, then flip and cook 3 minutes on the other side before breaking it up with the side of a spoon, the meat doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through yet.

If using chickpeas – wait until stage 4 to add them

2. Add the garlic, black pepper and chilli flakes to the pan and mix. Then fry over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3. Add the passata or canned tomatoes, boiling water, Parmesan rind, whole rosemary stems, raw pasta, milk and a further pinch of salt to the pan. If you are using chickpeas, now is the time to add them. Stir and then cover with a lid or foil. Cook, stirring often, and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain vigorous simmer until the penne is almost tender and the sauce is thicker. This usually takes 15 to 18 minutes depending on the brand of pasta.

4. While this cooks, make the pangratto. Heat the oil in a second frying pan on a medium heat and add the whole peeled cloves of garlic, a pinch of chilli flakes and the stem of rosemary. Cook for a minute or two to flavour the oil. After a minute, add the breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Continue to cook on a medium heat for around 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so until it smells toasty and garlicy and rustles dryly when you shake it. Take off the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

5. Take the pasta off the heat and stir in the cheese and chopped basil and any greens, if using. You could add some frozen peas at this stage too – the heat of the pasta will quickly defrost them. Taste and adjust seasoning. I always add red wine vinegar to brighten everything up and usually need extra salt and pepper too. Remove the Parmesan rind before serving.

6. At this stage the pasta can be served with a final grating of cheese on top (I usually do) or with the pangratto sprinkled on top.

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