35 Minute One Pan Pasta Dinner (vegetarian)

A delicious, quick pasta dinner that’s no-stress? Coming right up! This simple one-pan pasta is ready 35 minutes or less and cooks up fast in a skillet on the stove. Perfectly cooked noodles (recipe uses rigatoni noodles, but fusilli or cavatappi work well, too!) are coated in a fresh grape tomato and garlic pasta sauce.

cast iron skillet with rigatoni, tomatoes, parmesan cheese on a dark background

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 because I knew you’d love it as much as me. The real Josie and Nina might reject the idea of a pasta cooked directly in sauce; but they’d certainly love the fact that it’s an amazing 30 minute meal idea!

And such an easy pasta dinner idea for your family!

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A novel way to cook pasta

Let it sink in: dried pasta simmers in a big pan of fresh tomatoes, broth, wine and seasonings for about 30 minutes or so.

Easy, right?

But let’s be honest…boiling water and cooking pasta in it and spooning over some sauce is also really easy! Perfect example? This Lemon and Garlic Bucatini. Simple!

cast iron skillet filled with raw rigatoni, white onion, heads of garlic, fresh thyme and grape tomatoes and a small skillet of broth

So why should we want to cook dried pasta in sauce?

  • Big Flavor. Pasta absorbs so much flavor when cooked right in the sauce. And this sauce is just built from tomato, onion, garlic and thyme.
  • Authentic. When I say authentic, I don’t mean the technique but the resulting rich deliciousness tastes like you’ve cooked it for hours.
  • Time. While making pasta isn’t a big time sucker, making the sauce can be. So making a skillet pasta saves time.
  • 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 whatever show you’re bingeing in no time!

Speaking of cooking the pasta, let’s get down to shapes and sizes.

Best types of pasta for a one pot pasta recipe

Rigatoni is a great choice for easy one pan pasta meals because it cooks al dente (which means to the tooth in Italian) and will stay that way while absorbing all the great flavors.

Other pasta shapes that work are:

  • shells
  • cavatappi – my favorite is this one by DeCecco.
  • fusilli

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:

Choosing your tomatoes

fresh garden tomato on a white background with loose basil leaves and more tomatoes in a white basket

Recipes with fresh tomatoes have a rusticity and Italian authenticity. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use canned tomatoes (my favorite are San Marzano)!

Any tomato you have on hand will work for this pasta recipe.



Step by step instructions

Assemble all of your ingredients and let’s make a one pan 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.

Pro Tip

Adding a pat of butter at the end of cooking a pasta sauce
brings richness to a dish like nothing else!

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.

Storing

Refrigerate leftovers (if there are any) in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

Freezing

This dish is best enjoyed and made all in the same day. I haven’t tried freezing it but if you end up doing it, please let me know how it works for you!


Made this recipe?

I’d love it if you’d share your review and leave a star rating and comment!

cast iron skillet with rigatoni, tomatoes, parmesan cheese on a dark background.
5 from 5 votes

30 Minute One-Pan Pasta Dinner (Vegetarian)

A delicious, quick pasta dinner that’s no-stress? Coming right up! Made fast in a skillet on the stove, this simple one-pan pasta is ready in 35 minutes. Perfectly cooked noodles (recipe uses rigatoni noodles, but fusilli or cavatappi work well, too!) are coated in a fresh grape tomato and garlic pasta sauce.
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:30 minutes
Total Time:35 minutes
Servings 4

Equipment

  • covered skillet with high sides

Ingredients
 

Instructions

  • With heat to medium high, heat a 4 qt. (or 12") skillet with a tight fitting lid and high sides I use either this Lodge Cast Iron Skillet or the All Clad Essentials Pan.
  • 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.
    3 Tablespoons olive oil, ½ cup chopped onion, 4 cloves garlic
  • Add tomatoes to skillet along with ½ teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until blistered and the tomatoes pop, about 10 minutes.
    2 cups grape tomatoes, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon pepper
  • Pour in the wine and cook for 2 minutes.
    ½ cup dry white wine
  • 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.
    4 cups dry rigatoni pasta, 3 cups chicken broth
  • Sprinkle over the chopped thyme. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and cover the pan.
    1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 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.
    2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, fresh grated parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper, fresh basil
  • Sprinkle over fresh parmesan and basil/crushed red pepper (if using).

Notes

To make the recipe vegetarian. Substitute vegetable or mushroom stock.
If you end up with two much liquid. The broth to pasta ration is roughly 1:1 but keep an eye as it cooks. If there appears to be too much sauce, remove a 1/2 cup liquid and mix in a small bowl with 2 teaspoons of cornstarch until all the lumps are removed. Pour back into pot and stir until thickened.
Pasta substitutions. I prefer a thicker noodle. If using something smaller and daintier (i.e. elbow macaroni, cook for less time).
Wine substitutes. Use a couple of squeezes of fresh lemon right before serving. 
Canned tomatoes. If you don’t have fresh grape tomatoes, these canned cherry tomatoes from Mutti would work.
Make ahead / reheating
  • 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.
Storing
Refrigerate leftovers (if there are any) in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
Freezing
This dish is best enjoyed and made all in the same day. I haven’t tried freezing it but if you end up doing it, please let me know how it works for you!
Course: Dinner, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!

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3 Comments

  1. What a helpful idea, to cook the pasta in the sauce. It cuts the work by more than half. To make this dish as a side and serve it with some main course of meat cooked in the Italian manner to agree in flavor.. it sounds very tasty. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    1. Thank you for the lovely comment, Flora! I so appreciate it. Look for more one pan pasta recipes in the coming year from me – I love the amazing flavor that the pasta gets from being cooked in the sauce and I especially love the easy clean-up! Thanks again!🤗