Genius Recipes

Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

By • July 30, 2014 • 27 Comments

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Every week -- often with your help -- 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 some 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 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 a 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!

Photos by James Ransom

Jump to Comments (27)

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

Comments (27)

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29 days 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.

Stringio

2 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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4 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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4 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 :)

Stringio

4 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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4 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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about 1 month 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.

Stringio

4 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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4 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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4 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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4 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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4 months ago BabyKakes

Have to try this! Looks DEElish!

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4 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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4 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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4 months ago arthurb3

Yumm!

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4 months ago I_Fortuna

I try to eliminate starch not add it or leave it in the finished product. This looks good but pasta cooked al dente and rinsed will have to do for us. If I were to make this, I would break the pasta up into about 1 inch pieces and pan roast it a bit. This may cook faster leaving the veggies more al dente using less water and less released starch. I make rice this way and it cuts down on the starch and my rice comes out fluffy and the grains unbroken having converted the starch during the roasting process. Cooking this way does not spike our blood sugar and digests slower making it a safer carb.

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4 months ago Sara Cole Rafferty

Wonderful! Used whole wheat spaghetti, shallots, black olives, asparagus, yellow squash, cooked green beans. Added oregano and cilantro to basil.

Arles_

4 months ago liz

I have tried this dish out. It was very unsuccessful. Even before I attempted it I had my doubts about the cooking method. The results were gummy as the starch over took the dish. The flavours were muddy and the pasta was not done before all the fluid had evaporated.

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4 months ago MaggieG

I had the same unsatisfactory results. Wish it were otherwise!

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4 months ago Sasha (Global Table Adventure)

I wonder if the cooking vessel is having an effect on the evaporation rates, making yours gummier?

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3 months ago Yet_another_David

I am sorry to say that I completely agree about the muddy flavors, for this and for the farro version. Even worse were the bits of tough tomato skin throughout, and I tried this a couple of times with cherry and grape tomatoes from different sources. I'm a huge fan of the Food52 Genius series, but this recipe isn't making it into my collection.

Stringio

2 months ago Herlinda Heras

Toast the pasta a bit in the olive oil first like in Fideo. Then it's not gummy. Just yummy. I sauté the pasta, onion, in the oil first.

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4 months ago Kaja1105

Deb Perelman's "farro riff" is such a staple at our house that I haven't been tempted to try the original, but maybe I will now, after seeing these lovely photos.

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4 months ago Samantha Schroeder

Do you have the water measurements for fresh pasta? I would love to make this with fresh noodles!

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4 months ago Kaja1105

I think fresh pasta would cook too quickly, leaving the rest of the ingredients (especially onions and tomatoes) undercooked.

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4 months ago Sharon

Fresh pasta would not work in this dish.

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4 months ago Danny

Totally trying this. Absolutely love your use of the word "futz."