Can you feel it? That frenzied, urgent energy in the air that creeps up around this time of year, when two major holidays are crammed into the last two months? It is during these times that we need fast, simple, comforting meals. It is when I turn to one-pot pastas. It's one of those dishes that, once you discover it, you can't believe you haven't been making it your whole life. Somehow even 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. And cleanup is even easier than that.
Michelle Stark, Times food editor
Garlic Parmesan pasta
Here is a simple Alfredo sauce version of the one-pot pasta. To make: 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 ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese and more milk if your mixture is too thick. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Serve immediately. This recipe serves 4. Recipe from damndelicious.net.
Martha Stewart helped popularize the one-pot pasta, or as her classic recipe refers to it, the one-pan pasta. Martha advises using 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, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, 2 sprigs basil, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and 4 ½ 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. This recipe serves 4. Recipe from Martha Stewart Living.
Sausage and mushroom pasta
This version mixes it up with rigatoni instead of long noodles, and Italian sausage and mushrooms make it a hearty dish. Use any kind of mushrooms you'd like, just make sure they are cut into smaller chunks. You also can leave out the sausage to make this a vegetarian dish, 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; let it simmer on low for 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. This recipe serves 4. Recipe adapted from budgetbytes.com.
My go-to pasta this time of year, 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, ½ cup white wine (or water), 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ chopped medium onion, 3 or 4 minced garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to a large, heavy pot. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a rolling boil, then immediately 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. This recipe serves 4. Recipe from kitchentreaty.com.
And now, it's time for some veggies. This recipe 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 ½ pounds asparagus cut into 2-inch pieces, 4 ounces sliced white button mushrooms, 4 minced garlic cloves, ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper to a large pot set over high heat. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on top and bring the mixture to a boil. When it comes to a boil, set a timer for 7 minutes and toss constantly. When the 7 minutes is up, add ¾ cup frozen peas, 1 handful chopped fresh parsley leaves, ¼ cup heavy whipping cream, 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese and 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, tossing until the pasta and veggies are tender. Let the pasta sit for a couple of minutes until the liquid thickens. This recipe serves 4. Recipe adapted from ohmyveggies.com.