Remember when that one-pot pasta recipe came out in Martha Stewart Living a few years ago? It was so revolutionary, the idea that you could cook your pasta—no strainer necessary—and build so much flavor all at once. I developed a one-pot vegetarian version for Healthyish, and it ultimately became my go-to method for cooking pasta. That’s one of my core philosophies: Why create a bunch of dirty dishes when you don’t have to?
The story of how this recipe came about almost reads like a rom-com plot (emphasis on almost). One day, my then-boyfriend was over for dinner, and I combined all the leftover ingredients in the fridge to make this pasta. I always have poached chicken on hand, since I make my chicken stock that way, and I happened to have a good stock of fresh herbs. Cue some Aleppo pepper (my favorite way to add heat to any recipe) and a touch of cream and bam—best date-night meal I’d ever made. I’d heard about engagement chicken (Glamour’s legendary recipe for roast chicken so good that it supposedly got a guy to propose), and that night, there was a moment where I thought this pasta might do the same for me.
But, alas. The recipe stuck, the relationship didn’t.
What’s so great about cooking pasta this way is that you’re actually cooking the noodles in the sauce, so they get infused with flavor much sooner and more thoroughly than with a traditional pasta recipe (where you would make a sauce and mix the pasta in right before serving). I recommend using a high-quality brand of pasta—this ensures that each piece stays chewy and intact.
If you like penne alla vodka (and like, who doesn’t?), think of this as its slightly spicier, smokier, chicken-and-herb-inflected cousin. Give it a spin and let me know how it turns out!
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 large shallots, very thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper flakes, plus more, for serving
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 12 ounces (340g) short whole-wheat pasta (penne, rigatoni, and macaroni are my favorites here)
- 4 cups (960ml) chicken stock or water
- 2 cups (390g) shredded chicken
- 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as oregano, parsley, sage, and basil, plus more, for serving
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus 1 teaspoon lemon zest
What hearty one-pot wonders are you leaning on this winter? Let us know in the comments below.