Pinterest is great at sucking time away from your day, so I use it a whole lot less than I used to (just as I’ve tried to do with other social networking websites). But, yesterday I spent a few minutes on Pinterest, and one of the people I follow pinned a variation of a Martha Stewart recipe for one-pan pasta. I went back to the source, to compare the two. The variation used sun-dried tomatoes, instead of fresh like Martha’s, as well as tossing in some brie, and there were a few other differences as well.
But, one pan? Seriously?
See, I’m super skeptical of recipes that claim to be insanely simple, and one-pan pasta sounds scarily close to my Hamburger Helper memories. But I couldn’t imagine The Martha allowing stuff that tastes like a cardboard box being attached to her name.
“Isn’t it worth a try then?” I asked my skeptical self. “Especially since your thoughtful daughter brought you that lovely fresh basil and you’ve got, oh…about 32 fresh tomatoes laying about waiting to be amazing.”
Well, my skeptical self and I agreed, and together we decided to whip up some one pan pasta for supper last night. With variations, of course. First off, I used spaghetti instead of linguine, since my husband really doesn’t care for the wider noodles. I was out of olive oil, but I had some cream cheese that was just past expiration, so that went in and made it rich and creamy. And since I’m married to Oregano’s Number One Fan, I added a touch of that, too.
Just to tempt you, here’s what it looks like once it’s ready to serve:
So, with my little tweaks and twists, here’s my take on one pan pasta.
Creamy One-Pan Pasta with a Kick
12 ounces spaghetti (not angel hair — it needs to have about a 10 minute cook time)
12 ounces ripe tomatoes, diced. Peel first, if you hate bits of tomato skin in your food
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced (1 1/2 to 2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into small chunks
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
about 8 fresh basil leaves, torn
1/2 teaspoon Real Salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
4 cups water
4 ounces cream cheese, cut in small chunks (let sit at room temperature while pasta cooks)
1/3 to 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, preferably freshly grated
more black pepper, basil, and/or chopped tomatoes, for garnish, if desired
Use a large, deep skillet. One with straight sides will make it easier to keep everything in the pan while stirring. Martha’s recipe said to stir with tongs, but I used a pasta server, which worked even better, in my opinion.
Put the pasta, veggies and seasonings in the skillet, then add the water. Put on high heat and rapidly bring to a boil, stirring gently.
Do not cover the pan. Continue to boil, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Try to keep the pasta under the water as much as possible.
Cook until the pasta is done to your liking. (We like it done just a bit more than al dente) and the liquid is nearly gone. Make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom — mine did just a bit, but no biggie.)
Stir in parmesan, and mix until creamy. Divide among 4 bowls. Garnish with additional black pepper, diced tomatoes and torn basil leaves or a basil chiffonade. For chiffonading how-to, see the handy tutorial I did a while back on Home Ec 101. And for heaven’s sake, remember to use a sharp knife that is NOT serrated one. Which I failed to do this time. Derp. Rather than elegant, thin shreds, I made rather a wet mess of the leaves. I almost omitted the photo, but I think it demonstrates the lesson well. )
This dish came out quite hot, from the red pepper. At my husbands behest, I’ll reduce the red pepper to 1/4 teaspoon next time. We also thought this would be good with chicken, so I’m going to try adding a half-pint jar of my home-canned boneless chicken just before the pasta is done. My husband thinks green olives would be amazing in this, too. Not surprising, since he thinks they’re amazing in just about everything, but he’s probably right about this one.