Genius Recipes

Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

by • July 30, 2014 51 Comments

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Every week, Food52's Executive Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: A simple pantry staple gets even simpler.

Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

We didn't need pasta to get any simpler. But here it is: asking even less of our attention, patience, and time; dropping steps; and getting even better as a result, and we certainly aren't going to complain.

Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

Because there were still a couple things slowing us down in pursuit of our favorite weeknight meal: waiting for a big pot of water to boil, and constructing a sauce of some kind.

This pasta dispenses with both. It cooks entirely in one pan (without boiling water first) and makes its own sauce, all in about 9 minutes.

Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta  Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

More: The fastest way to slice those tomatoes.

How? You pile dry pasta, a measured amount of water, and a few flavoring agents into a skillet, then boil the liquid away. The ratios are perfect for cooking the pasta and sauce at once, without risking too-soft (or too-crunchy) noodles, or leaving a watery puddle behind.

The only thing you need to remember to do is futz with the pasta now and again with tongs or a fork, to keep it from cooking into a brick of linguine.

Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

This recipe was first published in Martha Stewart Living in June of last year, after a savvy member of their team spotted a chef using the method in a small town in Puglia. The technique made the rounds in the blogosphere and has inspired a number of spinoffs, some of which have gone beyond pasta, like Deb Perelman's farro riff.

So the method has shaved time, BTUs, and dirty dishes from our pasta cooking experience, but it comes with a number of other compelling benefits, too. For one thing, because you're cooking the pasta directly in ingredients that quickly condense into a sauce, the flavors absorb into the noodles as they cook, rather than just sitting on top.

Martha Stewart's One-Pot Pasta  Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

At the same time, the pasta is giving off starch, thickening the sauce and making it creamy, despite being entirely vegan (minus the arguably optional finish of Parmesan cheese). You don't need to remember to reserve a cup of pasta water (or know what to do with it).

Though it only cooks for 9 minutes, the sauce is intensely flavored with not just fresh tomatoes, basil, and garlic, but a sweet-savory backbone of cooked onion too -- which we needn't sauté in oil first, as we always do. Here, its effect is more like a concentrated stock or soup, and not dissimilar to our other favorite pasta sauce, Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce simmered with butter and an onion.

Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

This can be your pantry meal for the rest of the summer, but don't stop there. Take these basic proportions and swap in canned tomatoes, or any number of other ingredients you have on hand. Try crushed green olives or capers, peppers or prosciutto, or a chopped up bunch of greens. Fortify the liquid with stock, or wine, or Parmesan rinds. One-pan pasta is too good to limit to any single recipe, or season.

Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

Adapted slightly from Martha Stewart Living (June 2013)

Serves 4

12 ounces linguine
12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
1 onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
Coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper
4 1/2 cups water
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

To see the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected] Thank you to Brette Warshaw, juliana, and Kate Bagshaw for this one!

The Genius Recipes cookbook is here—and a New York Times Best Seller! The book is a mix of greatest hits from the column and unpublished new favorites—all told, over 100 recipes that will change the way you think about cooking. Order your copy here.

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: one-pan pasta, martha stewart, pasta, summer, how-to & diy, everyday cooking, vegetarian, special diets, one-pot meals

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Comments (51)

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7 days ago Kathryn R. Holmes/Monaghan

I think I tend to be 'too precise'..Yes,I do..!?? Your tips have been most welcomed.I see my pasta dish in my fridge has solidified so will portion a bit out and reheat later..Thanks so much for all of your handy advice!

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7 days ago Kathryn R. Holmes/Monaghan

Thank you Patti so very much...how wonderful of you and such a speedy reply.It is very much appreciated. Would you say a cup and a half of the sliced tomatoes?I did not have basil,so used from my deck garden(I am in a condo)fresh lemon oregano and a bit of chili oregano..Not bad!!I welcome any ideas please. Kathryn!

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7 days ago Patti Frazier-Laundree

The packages of these tomatoes are marked with weight when I buy them in store...think they are already 12oz but may only be 8 oz. Haven't bought for awhile so can't say for sure. I would never use a measuring cup though as I have a small food scale. However, as far as I'm concerned..don't think a few extra tomatoes would hurt recipe much..lol A good hefty 3 handfuls should do the job! You can also buy small packages of fresh basil if you ever do want to try. I have 4 kinds growing in my herb garden and look forward to trying a small combo of all! :)

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about 1 hour ago Patti Frazier-Laundree

Kathryn you are absolutely correct! This was way to soupy..as I just made today. It is tasty but think have remedied problem. :)
Adjust recipe as follows:
Use 3 cups water ( or chicken or vegetable broth)
When liquid begins to dissipate add more- up to 1 cup more water or both as needed...OR I would prefer to use wine!!
That is how I plan to make next time!! Good luck..think you will be pleased with results. :)

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8 days ago Kathryn R. Holmes/Monaghan

I ended up with far too much water/broth whatever..????Help what to do????I was trying to convert the gr./oz to cups!?? Please assist me thank you!!It did not turn out for me!???

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7 days ago Patti Frazier-Laundree

Maybe this will be easier..use 1 liter (~4 cups water) in your recipe. If sauce begins to get too thick or pasta is sticking, add additional 150ml (~1 /2 cup) water. Hopefully those measurements are more accurate for you.

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16 days ago annie

This is tremendously good using 2/3 chicken or vegetable broth, and 1/3 water instead of the 4 1/2 cups of water.

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about 1 hour ago Patti Frazier-Laundree

and add wine! :)

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16 days ago Patti Frazier-Laundree

Where do I go to see my saved recipes??

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16 days ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Hi Patti, click on the icon at the very top right of the page and you should be able to find all your profile info, including saved recipes! Sorry for the confusion.

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15 days ago Patti Frazier-Laundree

TYVM....found them! :)

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17 days ago Kevin Bilbro

Pasta comes in 16 ounce portions. Why not this recipe?

This is a big problem, in my opinion. Food & Wine always does this, too, when it comes to recipes. Just make the recipe for 16 ounces of pasta.

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about 1 hour ago Patti Frazier-Laundree

I think you will find that 16oz will work better in this recipe anyway as when using 12oz is way too soupy! ;)

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17 days ago Allison

I attempted to make this with gluten-free pasta. It was terribly unsuccessful. Too starchy and gummy, as well as bland. The skins from the tomatoes sloughed off into unappetizing chunks in the sauce. Blech.

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7 days ago I_Fortuna

I am assuming that your pasta was made with rice. Wheat pasta cooks much differently. Rice noodles cook faster in my experience. Perhaps if you follow the package directions for your pasta and then add the other ingredients and toss, it might work better. I hope so. : )

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17 days ago Andrew

"Futz" is such a great word...does what it says on the tin. Another one I got from my Mother-in-law is "Boudouffle" (pronounced Boo Doo Full - from the French - Boudouffler) which is the noise a thick sauce makes when it is just coming to the boil...any more out there?

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17 days ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

I feel like Yiddish is full of these -- schlep and schvitz are a couple of my favorites, and I think they're pretty irreplaceable.

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16 days ago Andrew

"schlep" I get but how/what/whom does one "schvitz"?

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16 days ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

If you were in NYC with our 71% humidity today, you would understand all too well what it is to schvitz. I sometimes think of vegetables as schvitzing too, but I might be alone in this.

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9 months ago Cassi Shindelbower

I made this and it was delicious. The only problem I ran into was that cooking the fresh cherry tomatoes that long caused the skins to separate and become rubbery in the dish... The flavor was good but the skins ruined the texture for me.

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11 months ago Herlinda Heras

This is the basis of Mexican Fideo! My mom has been cooking it for years. Spaghetti, little shells and of course, vermicelli. But we brown the pasta first w the oil, cumin and onion. then add the broth,canned tomatoes w juice and water. Cover and let it be for a while. Kids love it w grated cheddar or jack

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12 months ago robert fitz

in the microwave, one can of stock,one can diced tomatoes,seasoning of choice,maybe even such things as mushrooms, vegetables,a can of tuna or 2 or frozen raw shrimp or routisserie chicken on top of bowtie or fusilli pasta (8-9 OZ) in a quart size covered tupperware for 20 mins. at 90% power perfect Al Dente Pasta every time

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17 days ago Lora Wainscott

20 minutes in the microwave vs 9 minutes on the stovetop? Stovetop wins.

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17 days ago robert fitz

and i can be doing other things on the stove or whatever without having to stir...when you stir you activate the starch which ends up in some instances as gluey or over starchy tasting...with my method the moisture is gradually absorbed with the pasta staying firmer and most important for me as a single man the leftovers reheat much better and keep their texture.....I have run restaurants and this method is fool proof with certain pastas like fussilli and bowtie pasta

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12 months ago Sasha (Global Table Adventure)

Love this! I saw the concept floating around when it first came out - a good reminder to try it out... the perfect summertime solution :)

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12 months ago Mew19647

This didn't work for me, unfortunately. Its easy but the method makes for a gluey consistency and not good texture

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12 months ago Thomas

I haven't cooked it yet but the inner Marcella Hazan voice in my head is screaming no.

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10 months ago Victoria Carr

I had the same experience. I followed the directions exactly, and I hated the result - the texture was like glue, not pleasant at all. I won't be making this again. I feel if you think pasta's too hard to cook, perhaps you shouldn't be cooking. Pasta with Marcella Hazan's Tomato/Onion "Miracle" sauce is the best fast meal one can make.

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12 months ago Judy vigiletti

Tried it exactly as written and was fabulous. This will become a family staple and my college age son is thrilled it cooks in one pan. I will definitely experiential with other ingredients like pepper, mushrooms, zucchini etc.

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12 months ago Tamara

Made this last night and it turned out GREAT. I would say wait a few minutes after it's done before serving--I dished it out right after I turned off the heat and it was still pretty liquidy, but the second serving twenty minutes later was much more creamy and saucy once everything had time to settle off the heat. I added kale and red cabbage...will definitely make this again and add even more vegetables, and I think cannelini beans (to keep it vegan but bump up the protein) would be good in here too!

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12 months ago Jeff

I read this at lunch yesterday and realized right away this would be a winner. Better than I even imagined. It generated a long overdue appreciation to the Food52 gang: http://improbablepantry...

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12 months ago daisybrain

We call it "Grandpa's Noodles" because he has been serving it for years. He uses broth and short squat noodles like campanelle. Extremely tasty and quick.

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12 months ago BabyKakes

Have to try this! Looks DEElish!

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12 months ago Jackie

This looks great, but how do you scale the quantity up or down? For example, if I wanted to double the quantity of pasta, double the amount of water seems like it would be too much.

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12 months ago Jeff

I halved everything and it came out fine. I found that you have to watch the water quantity at the end, and turned down the fast boil to make sure the water wouldn't boil away while the pasta still needed to cook. The pasta does seem to soak up some water, and at a fast boil, the water boils away. For doubling, you could always try using less water, and keep some boiling water on standby in case you needed more. The dish isn't much work, but you do have to pay attention...I could see how it could go awry.

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about 1 year ago Arthur in the Garden!

Yumm!