The Legendary All-In-One-Pot Pasta Gets a Fall Refresh

November 23, 2017

Slow cookers, soup pots, and casserole dishes have been dusted off in households across the United States. For me, cold weather conjures thoughts of cozy meals that hit big on flavor, with minimal effort. Enter the one-pot pasta. The idea comes from Martha Stewart, and I gravitated toward it immediately. The basic idea is that all of the ingredients get cooked down together in a wide pan or pot, followed by the addition of pasta and liquid ingredients. Put the lid on and let the pasta cook to al dente. Pull that lid off, add final seasonings, and voila! Revel in your dinner-making genius.

You know how so many pasta recipes have you save some of that cooking liquid to use for the sauce in a separate pan? It’s because the starch in that water is a natural thickener that not only binds the ingredients together into a sauce, but also helps the sauce stick to the noodles, ensuring that each nook and cranny is covered. Here, all the starch from the pasta soaks right into the rest of the dish, doing all the work for you in the sauce department. The trick is to use the right amount of cooking liquid—roughly three cups per eight ounces of dry pasta.

I sent the recipe to my mother, and over video chat, we gabbed about our weeks in between bites.

After first seeing the one-pot concept, I wanted to update the traditional flavors to something a bit more seasonal. I swapped the tomatoes out for pumpkin because there’s always an extra can hanging around in my pantry this time of year. Fennel and sage were added for their aromatic qualities, and sausage was a must because it’s hearty and comforting. The type of pasta was an easy choice: something with ridges to grab onto the sauce it cooks in, like penne. A quick trip to my corner grocery store and I was off to work.

Ingredients, all together now. Photo by Rocky Luten

As I was cooking the dish for the first time, I had a revelation that white wine and lemon should be added to prevent the pasta from becoming too rich. Some of that wine also went into a glass for myself. I was on a roll. At the end, after scooping a bowl of the pasta for myself, I grated parmesan cheese over the top for a zap of tanginess.

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Once I had devoured two bowls, I knew I wanted to make this dish for someone I loved: my mother. Except...we live many states apart. I sent the recipe to her, and over video chat, we toasted the occasion with a glass of wine as we both dug in, gabbing about our weeks in between bites. Good food should certainly bring people together, and I can honestly say that this penne accomplishes that.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lynnie491
  • Young Huh
    Young Huh
  • Sergio Ianni
    Sergio Ianni
  • macha
  • btglenn
Food Scientist, blogger, and lover of everything flavorful.


Lynnie491 December 4, 2017
This is insanely good. I made it last night. Thank you.
Young H. December 1, 2017
This recipe is absolutely delicious!!!! I’ll be makinf this again and again!
Sergio I. December 1, 2017
Italians cook pasta in plenty of water for a good reason. Cooking pasta this way will only make it lose quickly all the starch in the little qty of water inside the pot so it becomes pasta cooked in a concentrated 'soup' of vegetables and broth but it will be all sticky and absolutely not 'al dente'. Italian cooking comes from a long tradition and very few chefs have invented something really new (even Bottura is very controversial by most standards). This is not Italian cooking or even nouvelle cuisine. I will post some traditional recipes which are very easy to do.
macha November 30, 2017
My husband is allergic to fennel. What should I use instead?
btglenn November 30, 2017
It is time to get the record straight!!! Edward Giobbi, O Martha Stewart, presented this recipe for cooking pasta in his recipe book "Eat Right Eat Well, the Italian Way," way back in 1985. He precedes the recipe with the following description "In 1971... we took a train from Frankfurt to Munich. The train was half empty and looking for a friendly face.... I introduced myself in Italian.... It appeared that he was a factory worker in Germany and he missed his family and Napolitano cooking. I don't think we had talked more than three minutes before we were on the subject of food. He became more animated as he described his favorite dishes.
He asked me if I had tasted pasta with rape. I said that I had and how I made it by cooking the pasta and rape in a large pot of boiling water.....He looked at me with pity and shook his head. And I knew immediately that I was about to get another great recipe.
He proceeded to describe in the most poetic way the following... in detail how to prepare this simple lovely dish. I could not believe it was possible to cook raw pasta with raw vegetables in a very small amount of water. I was convinced, though when he clasped his hands, rolled his eyes, and exclaimed in his beautiful Napolitano dialect 'It;s so good it hurts!'
.... AND THOUGH THIS ONE SEEMED TO BREAK ALL THE RULES, I KNEW IT HAD TO BE GOOD. Giobbi's version of the recipe follows.
Giobbi was a well known artist of the time, but also an acclaimed cook book writer. Chech out the book in which this recipe appeared, and also his "Italian Family Cooking" with an introduction by Craig Claiborne.
katallred November 30, 2017
Amen, btglenn. Martha may have popularized it due to her enormous platform, but the idea sure didn't come from her. Food52 even reported on the matter back in 2015: https://food52.com/blog/13936-the-late-night-in-puglia-that-gave-us-martha-stewart-s-one-pan-pasta-7-new-ones
Katrina M. November 30, 2017
hmm i'm not feeling pumpkin anything. Wonder what an alternative would be
Chuck November 30, 2017
I'm with you, thinking about pureed squash perhaps
AntoniaJames November 24, 2017
This looks positively divine. I'm putting it on my next menu plan! Thank you for posting this. ;o)