When most of us cook pasta, we usually boil the pasta in a pot of water, drain it, then add the sauce and other ingredients. Right? And the water has to be boiling first before you add the pasta. And now you have that pot and colander to wash.
What if I told you that you don’t have to boil and drain that pasta first?
OK, this actually isn’t new information. There are loads of one-pot pasta recipes out there, but most of them are casserole-like dishes. You can skip the pre-boiling pretty much every time, though.
Barilla makes a line of pastas called Pronto specially designed for one-pot cooking, and they gave us a demo at our offices. You want to use a wide, shallow pan and follow the cooking directions on the box exactly — the timing and water quantity are crucial. But you start with your pasta in water — no need to boil first.
After a while, your pasta will have absorbed most of the water.
That’s when you can add your sauce or other ingredients.
And of course, the special pasta comes in different shapes.
I love this, especially for teaching kids how to cook pasta, because this means they’re not dumping out a pot of hot water with their little arms.
Barilla doesn’t add any funky ingredients to make this happen — they just make a slightly thinner version of their usual shapes and they’ve carefully calibrated the water and cooking times to give you foolproof, perfectly al dente pasta.
I’ve cooked regular angel hair pasta (not the Pronto) the same way — in a wide, shallow pan just covered with water. You’ll want to be careful to stir the noodles around so they don’t stick together. I usually eyeball the water, covering the pasta by a half-inch or so and adding a little more if needed. Near the end, when I still have a bit of water left, I stir in some homemade pesto.
I’m thinking you could even adapt a carbonara recipe for this hack, though you’d have to use a different pan to cook the pancetta or bacon, and then it wouldn’t be quite so one-pot. But at least you’d have skipped the draining step.
Angel hair is easy for the simplest one-pot pasta dishes, but you can cook dried pasta of all shapes and sizes in chicken stock and some sauces as long as you have enough liquid.
Here’s a whole batch of one-pot pasta recipes that don’t require you to cook and drain your pasta separately.