I’m pretty domestic now.
To give you an idea of how far I’ve come, I used to own one cookware item. One. It was a straight-sided sauté pan. Technically if you count the lid, you could say I owned two pieces of cookware. If you opened my refrigerator, you would find these things: bacon, beer, and ketchup. My freezer had nothing more than frozen potatoes. I learned that frying up the potatoes in the bacon grease in my single pan made for a bomb-diggity breakfast.
I should also add that my pan cost me $12.99 from Target (or was it TJ Maxx?), and the only reason I bought it was because I thought it was perfect for making Hamburger Helper. And to give you an idea of exactly how un-domestic and lazy I was back then, I didn’t even have milk in my refrigerator, so I would only pick the flavors of Hamburger Helper that didn’t require some sort of cheesy sauce.
Then I met Sam, and he moved all of his kitchen stuff into my kitchen, and now I don’t have room for the gadgets that I do want now: a stand mixer, food processor/slicer, etc. Also, my refrigerator is stocked to the point where I can probably make cupcakes on a whim. So sometimes I do. Today I made chocolate ice cream just because I could.. and because I didn’t want some of my fresh ingredients (eggs, cream, etc) to spoil while I’m gone over the weekend.
The point of the story is that my trusty pan has seen me through my bachelorette days with what my friends affectionately call my “lumberjack breakfasts,” and now it’s the perfect item for making one of my new favorite dishes: the one-pan pasta.
I first saw this recipe in a Martha Stewart Living magazine (which, fyi, I’m totally obsessed with her and Barefoot Contessa. I want them to be my unofficial aunts so they can plan fabulous parties for me). The sheer beauty and simplicity of the dish made me want to try it. So I did, and I totally loved everything about it.
Over the past few trials, I’ve modified the recipe a bit to my liking. But here is the original, with some of my changes:
- 12 ounces linguine — I actually just dump in the entire box, and I prefer fettucine
- 12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
- 1 onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups) — I prefer shallots, as you can use two and they have a milder flavor than onions
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced — I prefer to chop them up
- 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes — more if you like a stronger kick
- 2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish — I’m not a fan of basil, so one time I just put two or three leaves, and threw in some arugula instead
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups vegetable broth + 1/2 cup water
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
The great thing about this dish is that the only prep you’ll have to do is slice, chop, halve the onions, garlic and tomatoes. Then everything else goes into the pan.
Have you seen anything more gorgeous?
Throw everything into the pan, then bring the water and vegetable broth to a boil over high heat, and let it bubble away for about 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally with tongs so the pasta doesn’t stick together.
At some point, you’re going to wonder if it’s actually going to work, because it doesn’t look very cohesive. But fret not: the sauce doesn’t start to thicken up until literally the last minute of cooking.
Once the noodles are al dente, dish it up, grate some fresh parmesan on top, and eat. THAT SIMPLE.
A few things to note:
– You can use any type of pasta that has a cooking time of about 12-13 minutes. If you’re gluten-free, you may have to play around with it, as gluten-free pastas have much shorter cooking times, and the ratio of water to pasta may be too much, and the sauce won’t thicken up in time. Plus, gluten-free pastas turn to mush when they’re overcooked.
– You can also throw in some other ingredients after it’s done cooking, like baby spinach or grilled shrimp. Or you can just leave it as it is (it’s super vegetarian-friendly), and it’ll taste like it came from a kitchen in a rustic Italian villa.
– If you’re freaking out about the sauce not thickening up, just keep stirring, and magically at some point it will turn into a beautiful dish. Seriously, trust me on this one. I’ve made this dish numerous times, and I still sort of freak out at minute 11 because it’s still watery. Then at minute 12, it’s suddenly perfect. And I also forgot half a cup of water today, but it still turned out delicious. Really, I don’t think there’s a way for you to mess this up.