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Dublin: 1°C Thursday 20 January 2022

Simple life: 6 one-pot pasta combos for comfort food without the washing up

Tuck into creamy chicken pesto or chorizo and tomato penne, with just one pot to wash up.


AS THE DAYS grow shorter and the evenings colder, there’s nothing better than snuggling up with a bowl of warming pasta. These simple dishes are all cooked in just one pot (yes, pasta included), leaving you with a hearty meal that saves you too much trouble of washing up. 

Most of us are used to cooking pasta and sauce in separate pots, but the joy and flavour of these recipes comes from cooking everything all in one. As the pasta cooks on a high heat, the water or other cooking liquids will reduce, while the starch from the pasta thickens the sauce and anoints your meal with a silky, flavoursome finish.

The majority of these recipes simply call for adding all ingredients in at once, but if things need to be cooked in a certain order, I have outlined that too.

These six one pot recipes will mean you’ll have a quick and tasty supper ready in no time, and your dishwasher will thank you for a night off duty…

1. One-pot mac ‘n’ cheese

The ultimate in comfort food, and quick as a flash to make, mac and cheese is perfect for a simple supper after a long day. Gently heat a litre of whole milk in a deep pot, and when it’s simmering, add 350g elbow macaroni and cook until al dente. Stir in 100g of softened butter, 200g of mature cheddar cheese, half teaspoon of English mustard, a teaspoon of salt and a half teaspoon of freshly-ground black pepper. Fold all of the ingredients in over a low heat until a thick, creamy sauce has developed. If you feel like boosting the flavour and keeping carnivores happy, you can toss in some cooked bacon lardons or shredded ham at this point. I like to serve it with fresh parsley and some Parmesan on top, because in our house, there’s no such thing as too much cheese. 

2. Creamy pesto chicken

Relive the fresh flavours of summer with this crowd-pleasing dish. It can be made with any type of pasta, but I prefer fusilli (the spiral shape) as it holds more of the lusciously creamy sauce. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot and add 450g of diced chicken, turning until golden brown and cooked through. Remove the chicken, add another tablespoon of olive oil, and gently sautée two minced garlic cloves before removing and setting aside. Pour in 500mls of water and add 350g fusilli pasta. Stir regularly for seven minutes, and when the pasta is tender, allow it to cool slightly before pouring in 250ml double cream (crème fraîche will work too) and 150g of ready-made pesto. Return the chicken and garlic to the pot and stir over a low heat until a fragrant sauce has come together. I always add some grated Italian hard cheese and extra torn basil leaves, because the aroma of fresh, vibrant herbs makes my heart happy, even on the chilliest of evenings.

3. Mushroom fettuccine  

This one-pot favourite is filled with autumnal flavours and creamy goodness. In a large pot, combine 350g fettuccine pasta, 300g sliced mixed mushrooms, six minced cloves of garlic garlic, one tablespoon olive oil, a teaspoon salt and a half teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper. Add a litre of water and bring to the boil, stirring regularly. After about eight minutes, taste a strand of pasta to make sure it’s al dente and stir in 200g mascarpone cheese (regular full-fat cream cheese will work, too). When I’m plating, I add fresh basil, grated Parmesan cheese and, if I fancy upping the luxury ante, a drop of truffle oil.

shutterstock_636974005 Source: Shutterstock/Galiyah Assan

4. One-pot chorizo and tomato penne 

Cheap and thoroughly cheerful, this simple dish is enlivened by the gentle spice of Spanish sausage. Fill a large pot with 400g penne pasta, a tin diced tomatoes, half of a fennel bulb (thinly sliced), one large chorizo sausage (cut into discs), a tablespoon of butter, one teaspoon of salt, a half teaspoon ground pepper and a handful of fresh basil leaves. Pour in a litre of water and bring to the boil. Maintain the high heat and stir thoroughly. It should only take about eight or nine minutes for the liquid to reduce, leaving the pasta deliciously al dente. I usually spoon it into a bowl, adding more basil, a sprinkle of cheese and some crusty bread to mop up those lovely Mediterranean flavours.

5. Pasta puttanesca

This classic vegetarian dish is an old Italian favourite and ideal for a meatless Monday. In a large pot, combine 350g linguine, 300g halved cherry tomatoes, 60g pitted and halved black olives, 30g capers, one tablespoon olive oil, one teaspoon salt, a half teaspoon ground pepper, a handful of finely-chopped parsley and a pinch of chili flakes. Pour in a litre of water and bring to the boil, stirring to ensure the pasta stays loose and the ingredients cook evenly. Cook for about eight minutes, until the pasta is al dente and most of the liquid has evaporated. I like to serve it with more parsley, an extra grind of black pepper and, if I’m feeling brave, some freshly-chopped chili.

shutterstock_358632791 Source: Shutterstock/margouillat photo

6. Lemon and garlic prawn pasta

Pasta doesn’t have to be heavy; sometimes it’s perfect for binding together light, fresh flavours and delicate ingredients, like this dinner-party stalwart: lemon garlic prawn pasta. First, boil 350g of spaghetti for six to seven minutes in a large pot. When it’s cooked al dente, remove it from the heat and drain, reserving 120ml of the pasta water. In the same pot, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter and gently sautée four minced cloves of garlic. Add 500g of peeled prawns, and cook until pink. Return the pasta and pasta water to the pot, add two tablespoons of lemon juice, two tablespoons of butter and 20g of Parmesan. If I’m entertaining, I like to twirl the pasta into an elegant little nest on the plate, with fresh basil leaves, a wedge of lemon and an extra sprinkling of cheese.

More: Raid the fridge: 7 magnificently tasty midweek dinners made using basic ingredients

About the author:

Rachael Kealy

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