Elizabeth David, in her wonderful book Italian Food, tells about a time in Italy when pasta was the center of a swirling controversy. It was the 1930s, and a futurist poet named Marinetti said pasta "...induces skepticism, sloth, and pessimism and ... its nutritive qualities are deceptive." Well, the uproar that followed proved how Italians love their pasta, and for good reason. It's readily available, stores beautifully is delicious, nutritious (despite Marinetti's opinion), and adaptable. There's only one problem with pasta: you need to boil quarts of water to cook it. This step can take 10-15 extra minutes, which, on a busy weeknight, is a lot of time. So let's solve that with some one-pot pasta recipes!
Fear not! On the stovetop, in the oven, or the crockpot, these efficient meals use the liquid in the recipe to cook the pasta. Aside from the timesaving bonus, I feel that the pasta actually tastes better prepared this way. While it cooks, it absorbs flavors from the rest of the ingredients.
The texture will also be a bit different - more al dente, literally "to the tooth", firmer and chewier, the way Italians prefer. But there is one caveat; these recipes that cook on the stovetop or in the crockpot need stirring. Some, such as Skillet Spaghetti, need pretty constant stirring. That's the price you pay for convenience. But I think it's so satisfying to watch the pasta slowly soften and absorb the liquid, becoming tender and perfect as it cooks in the sauce.
If you are a low carb devotee, you can still have pasta. Look for whole grain pastas that are now on the market. Ronzoni, my favorite brand, offers whole wheat pastas that are delicious, nutritious, and full of complex carbohydrates (the good carbs).
Pasta dishes like spaghetti, stews with orzo, crockpot soups, and stovetop lasagna are so soothing and comforting; ideal for a cold winter's night. The rich tomato sauces, tender meats, and savory and nutty cheeses blend with the perfect pasta consistency to produce a feast. Just add some crusty bread and a crisp salad, and you have a wonderful meal in minutes.
Some of these recipes even cook in the crockpot! When cooking pasta in the slow cooker, you have to watch it carefully. The pasta is usually added towards the end of the cooking time. Keep tasting it so the food is served when pasta is done just perfectly.
Follow the directions carefully in these one pot pasta recipes. Pay special attention to the amount of liquid used, and to the covering and uncovering directions. Some recipes require more stirring during cooking time, while others will happily cook to perfection all on their own.
Feel free to substitute ingredients according to your tastes and your family’s. Meat dishes can usually be made with seafood. Vegetables are almost always interchangeable. Also enjoy experimenting with new flavors and textures. Pasta is so familiar and dependable, you can probably introduce some new ingredients to your family in these dishes, without arousing suspicion. Different pasta types can also be substituted, making sure that the pasta you substitute is about the same size and shape as that specified in the recipe.
As a general guide, small pastas include penne, shells, elbow macaroni, orzo and rotini. Medium pastas include farfalle, fusilli, radiatore, rigatoni, wagon wheels, and malfalda. Long pastas are fettuccine, linguine, spaghetti, and vermicelli. Have fun being creative with the thousands of pasta types and these easy, delicious recipes!
One Pot Pasta Recipes
- All-in-the-Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs
I love cooking spaghetti this way - in fact, it's the way I cook it most often. For al dente pasta, add the spaghetti during the last 20 minutes or so of cooking time. The pasta has more flavor because it cooks in the sauce, and this method is so easy.
- Overnight Lasagna
This is my favorite version of a classic recipe. I just adore recipes that you make ahead and then simply pull out of the fridge or freezer and bake!
- Old-Fashioned Goulash
This recipe originally baked in the oven, but I changed it to make it easier. It's got wonderful old-fashioned flavor and is so easy to make.
- Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese
Wow, this recipe is rich and creamy, and it cooks in the slowcooker!
- Skillet Spaghetti
This recipe is very easy, and sure to be a success if you follow one rule: stir frequently. The pasta flavor is simply wonderful, as it absorbs seasonings from the spaghetti sauce as it cooks.
- Crockpot Jambalaya
Jambalaya usually has rice cooked in the savory mixture of tomatoes, sausages, chicken and seafood. This version uses orzo, a rice-shaped pasta - cooked right in the slow cooker.
- One Pot Pesto Pasta with Sausage
This fabulous recipe cooks spaghetti in chicken broth so it has marvelous flavor. The sausages and pesto are perfect complements to the tender pasta.
- Crockpot Tortellini
This beefy casserole is rich and hearty, and so simple to make. Try it soon!
- Easy Lasagna
This lasagna recipe, with just five ingredients, uses no-boil noodles for ease and convenience.
- Meatballs With Orzo
The combination of fresh and canned tomatoes really adds a wonderful flavor to this simple recipe.
- Crockpot Vegetable Minestrone
Minestrone is a hearty vegetable soup that is thickened with pasta. Serve it with some basil pesto and garlic toast for dunking.
- Crockpot Sweet And Sour Chicken Stew
If you love Sweet And Sour Chicken from your local Chinese takeout, try this recipe. It's super easy, and cooks happily all by itself while you can do other fun things.
- Black Bean Lasagna
Black beans are wonderful, creamy legumes that are low fat. They add a delicious flavor to this simple lasagna.
- Cheesy Skillet Lasagna
Lasagna in a skillet! I love the creamy topping that cooks on top of the tomato and pasta mixture. Try it for dinner tonight.
- Crockpot Chicken Alfredo
This easy and nutritious crockpot recipe combines chicken thighs with lots of vegetables and alfredo sauce. Refrigerated fettuccine cooks in minutes, so it's perfect for the crockpot.
- Chicken Stroganoff
Like Beef Stroganoff, this recipe uses sour cream and tender vegetables to compliment chicken and pasta.
- Tomato Pork Farfalle
Pork tenderloin recipes belong in every Busy Cook repertoire. The meat is tender, flavorful, and cooks quickly. This creamy recipe is absolutely delicious, and a great way to try this cut of pork.
- Chicken And Ravioli Cacciatore
This quick and easy variation on Italian Cacciatore is wonderful, savory, and seasoned just perfectly.
- Overnight Meatball Casserole
The combination of spaghetti sauce and condensed cheese soup adds a wonderful savory tang to this easy casserole. Those handy frozen meatballs and mafalda pasta cook to perfection in this recipe.
- Red and White Tortellini
This dish is so simple to make even my husband can make it! It's a great dish for company; serve with a spinach salad and cheesy garlic bread.
- Chicken Manicotti
Chicken thighs are placed inside uncooked manicotti shells, then a fabulous sauce envelopes everything. The dish cooks to perfection in the oven.
- Southwest Mac and Cheese
Did you know that using evaporated milk in macaroni and cheese is the best way to get a creamy consistency? This unusual recipe breaks one pasta rule: the pasta cooks in just enough water to cover, instead of several times the amount of water to pasta.
- Spaghetti in the Microwave
Yes, you can cook spaghetti totally in the microwave oven! Follow the directions for stirring and standing times carefully.
- Potato Pierogies
Pierogies are large pasta half moons filled with a seasoned potato mixture. Make sure you always have a bag or two in the freezer, for last minute dinners and unexpected guests.