Cook pasta right in the sauce —all in one pan. This One Pan Pasta Recipe solves the problem of what to put on pasta when you have no sauce. Cook the pasta in a sauce of fresh tomatoes, a little onion and sliced garlic for an easy weeknight dinner. You'll be eating in under thirty minutes! Inspired by Martha Stewart.
A while back —so far back it was pre-Pinterest or smart phones —I came across a one pot pasta recipe from the Queen, Martha Stewart (I know she's not everyone's cup of tea, but you can't deny she knows her stuff). I shoved said recipe into a big accordion file where it sat but never quite left my mind. The idea of pasta cooked in sauce was something I always wanted to try but was contrary to everything I learned from the real Josie and Nina. It took a whole house move to resurrect this idea and now that I've done it, I just had to share my version of One Pan Pasta.
Cook pasta right in the sauce
You are smart. You know why this sounds like a good idea. But let's be honest...boiling water and making pasta is easy, right? Perfect example is this Lemon and Garlic Bucatini. So why should we want to make pasta without sauce?
- Big Flavor. You will not believe how easy much flavor pasta absorbs when cooked right in the sauce. And this sauce is just built from tomato, onion, garlic and thyme. It doesn't get more flavorful than that!
- Authentic. When I say authentic, I don't mean that's how my grandmas would have done it but I mean that it doesn't involve opening a jar of sauce and dumping it on pasta and calling that dinner. And it's clean eating meaning you know the ingredients in the sauce because you put them there.
- Time. While making pasta isn't a big time sucker, making the sauce can be. So cooking your pasta right in the sauce saves time. And equipment. Speaking of which...
- Easy clean-up. One pan, one utensil. Easy clean-up. You'll be on the couch, pasta bowl in hand, watching the next episode of Bridgerton in no time.
What kind of pan do I need?
Any wide skillet with high sides and a lid will work but the key here is higher sides to accomodate for all the liquid needed to cook the pasta. Here are some options:
- Lodge Large Cast Iron Skillet. This is what I'm using.
- All Clad Essentials Pan. One of my all time favs.
- The Always Pan by One Place. Has a huge cult following.
- Rachael Ray Create Delicious Hard Anodized Deep Skillet
Speaking of cooking the pasta, let's get down to shapes and sizes.
Best type of pasta for a one pot recipe
If I recall (and I purposely didn't consult Martha's recipe because I wanted to just manifest her 😉), Martha used a spaghetti noodle. I used rigatoni because I really like al dente pasta (which means to the tooth) and thought it had a better chance of staying that way while absorbing all the great flavors. Other ones to try:
- cavatappi - my favorite is this one by DeCecco.
Cook pasta in the sauce
Assemble all of your ingredients and let's make some pasta.
- Saute onions over low heat for about five minutes adding garlic at the end (1).
- Add the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes until they burst (2).
- Top with pasta (3) and enough chicken broth to cover the pasta (4). Put a lid on the whole thing and cook for about 15-20 minutes until the pasta is al dente and has absorbed most of the liquid. Add some butter right at the end to bring it all together.
You can use dried but use just 1 teaspoon. Or use basil instead. Or leave the herbs out all together.
Absolutely! For a little acidity, add a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice.
Sure thing! Mutti makes a canned cherry tomato that would work great here. While I haven’t used a whole canned tomatoes for this recipe, I think they’d work as well.
Make Ahead, Storing, Freezing
Make ahead / reheating
Best made before serving but I get that when the craving hits, it hits.
- Make the dish earlier in the day without the parmesan.
- Right before serving, put the pasta in the pan on the stove.
- Add a little broth to loosen things up and heat.
- Top with parmesan cheese.
In an airtight container for 2-3 days.
This dish is best enjoyed and made all in the same day.
One Pan Pasta with Tomatoes and Garlic
- covered skillet with high sides
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 cups grape tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon pepper, divided
- ½ cup dry white wine, like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc
- 4 cups dry rigatoni pasta, can use fusilli or cavatappi
- 3 cups chicken broth, or more (see note below)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- fresh grated parmesan cheese
- crushed red pepper, optional
- fresh basil, optional
- Add olive oil and after a minute add chopped onion. Saute for 5 minutes until lightly golden. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds until you can smell it. You don't want it to brown or burn.
- Add tomatoes to skillet along with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook until blistered and the tomatoes pop, about 10 minutes.
- Pour in the wine and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the uncooked pasta to the pan. Pour over the chicken broth using more if needed to cover the pasta. Add the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons salt and ¾ teaspoon of pepper.
- Sprinkle over the chopped thyme. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and cover the pan.
- Simmer for 15-20 minutes stirring periodically. Check after 10 minutes to see how the pasta is cooking and absorbing the sauce.You'll want almost all of the liquid to be absorbed. Remove the lid if needed for the last few minutes.
- Add the butter and stir until thickened. See note below if you need the sauce a little thicker.
- Sprinkle over fresh parmesan and basil/crushed red pepper (if using).