Food Experiments: One Pot Pasta Part II

As a follow-up to my last Food Experiment post, I offer a better pasta in one pan quickie lunch. This requires a prepared sauce, but adds some veggies, and I think it comes out much better than my previous one – here.

Not only do you only use one pan, it all cooks together once you get it started. No draining–once the pasta is done, the whole dish is done. Perfect!

For one serving, I used:

  • Penne pasta, about 3/4 cup dry
  • Classico Florentine Spinach & Cheese Pasta Sauce, 3/4 to 1 cup
  • Quarter of an Onion, diced small
  • Half a small Summer Squash, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons canned Black Beans
  • Fresh Basil, sliced up small
  • Olive Oil, salt and pepper, grated cheese
  • a splash of water

Heat a quart sized sauce pan to medium, add enough oil to saute veggies. Throw in the onion and let it saute a couple minutes, then add the squash. Give that another couple minutes, stirring to prevent too much browning. Then add the pasta sauce, some water, the pasta, and black beans. Turn the heat up to medium high and let it come to a boil. Lower the heat to Medium Low. Add salt for seasoning the pasta and squash, not too much, and pepper to taste. Stir well to make sure nothing is sticking — add water if it seems thick. There needs to be enough liquid to cook the pasta.

Cover the pan and allow it to simmer for 9 minutes. Stir it at least once. After 9 minutes, take it right off, stirring everything off the bottom.

Serve with a drizzle of oil and the basil on top, plus the grated cheese.

Of course, any shape of pasta will work, and any prepared sauce as well. If you don’t have/don’t like summer squash and black beans, then bell peppers, mushrooms or other vegetables that don’t take long to cook would work.

Definitely 2 Thumbs Up!

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Food Experiments: Pasta w/Tomatoes in one Pan

I love to cook — now and then. Not always that excited to cook every day — who is? But when I get inspired, I really enjoy it. What I truly do not enjoy is shopping. I put off grocery shopping frequently until I don’t have anything I want to eat. And then sometimes I put it off a little longer. LOL

Sure, I know the right way to do things is to plan ahead, decide what you’re going to have for meals and then go shopping. Well, it’s not likely after 40 years cooking meals that I’m going to start doing that, so there are a lot of days when I have to get creative.

I recently discovered a great YouTube channel called Brothers Green Eats and it has inspired me to be more creative and less attached to recipes in the kitchen. These guys are very casual and fun and they have great ideas, great techniques to offer. Most of the food they make is very budget conscious, and one of the brothers, Josh, did a series called “How to Live on $3 a Day” which I really enjoyed. Be aware they can get a bit crude now and then. 🙂

Brothers Green Eats: How to Live on $3 a Day

The Recipe

Today I needed something for lunch. I had pasta, some leftover diced tomatoes from a can, onions, garlic and herbs and Parmesan cheese. I wanted to use just one pan, so I decided to cook them all at the same time. Here’s what I used for ingredients — measurements are approximate:

  • 3/4 cup rotini pasta
  • 2/3 cup diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 1/2 garlic clove chopped fine
  • salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of sugar
  • 1 T butter
  • herbs — oregano and basil as you like
  • grated cheese

I brought about an inch or so of water to a boil, throwing all the ingredients except cheese in as I got them ready, with the pasta going in last when the water came to a boil. I let it cook on medium high for 9 or 10 minutes and then scooped out all the pasta and veg. Then the sauce got a bit of olive oil in it and stayed on the heat for 5 or 10 minutes to reduce. I threw the pasta/veg back in the pot with some of the cheese to combine, then plated it and added more grated cheese.

The Verdict? A Qualified Thumbs Up

So how’d it come out? Like soup! I couldn’t get the sauce to reduce very much, so I just put everything in a bowl. It was very tasty. The grated cheese did not work well though because the hot liquid made it gum up. If the sauce were much thicker the cheese would have been fine. I wouldn’t add it until after plating the pasta though.

Next time I think I would separate the pasta from the vegetables as they cooked, maybe putting the veg in a steamer basket and the pasta in the bottom of the pan. Then when the pasta is done, it could come out and the rest could continue to cook down for 5 or 10 minutes. The other thing I might do is combine a bit of the liquid with some corn starch and then add it back in the sauce.

All in all, I would do it again. Could certainly add some frozen meatballs or sausage or chicken. The main thing is to use very little water – just about enough to cover the pasta and veggies. It will still be enough to cook the pasta and you don’t lose any flavors by draining the pasta.

Next food experiment: I want to make tomato rice, where you make a big pot of rice and cook a whole tomato on top of it. But I’ll have to go buy a tomato for that. 🙂