one-pan pasta

Ok, seriously.  I’ve been making pasta for as long as I can remember and I never, ever thought to put everything in one pan.  And actually have it turn out.  Because that’s just crazy talk, like, who actually thinks of these things?  Well, apparently Martha Stewart is onto something, because this might just be my new favourite way to enjoy pasta.

It seems like this one-pan thing is trending, but I can see why.  This is so incredibly easy and doesn’t take much time at all, which is perfect for those busy weeknights when the last thing you want to do is make a proper dinner.  I know I have those nights occasionally, when a bag of popcorn looks like the most attractive dinner option, so having this in my repertoire is going to be a huge help.

Now, this recipe is obviously for the gluten-eaters.  I originally wanted to try it with regular pasta because this is just such a weird concept for me, I just wanted to see how it would work.  But I guess I was feeling brave and I had a package of corn spaghetti in my pantry anyway, so I figured why not.

ingredients1All these ingredients together makes for a beautiful sight.  You need a skillet large enough for the noodles to lay flat, that is also straight-sided.  And then you toss in onions, garlic, cherry or grape tomatoes, basil, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and water.  Easy!

cookingAt first it doesn’t look like it will work, but soon enough it starts to come together.  I kept a close eye on it and stirred it frequently, so the noodles wouldn’t get stuck to the bottom.

So the only drawback using gluten-free pasta is that it’s so starchy compared to regular pasta.  Normally, gluten-free pasta needs to be rinsed to get rid of excess surface starch after it’s cooked; obviously you never do that with regular pasta. As the water was being absorbed and cooking down, I noticed a healthy amount of starch released into the water.  It was starting to look overly goopy (I can’t really think of a proper term to describe it).  With no way to get rid of the starch, I just had to keep hoping that the end product would turn out ok.  Perhaps the starchiness would mimic a cream sauce?

pasta2The result wasn’t too bad at all.  It was certainly starchy, but it ended up turning into a tomato-ey, creamy sauce.  My only gripe was that the noodles tended to clump together because of the starchiness.  The actual flavour of this pasta is just so fresh and clean, and has a nice spicy bite from the red pepper flakes.  It’s a simple, yet elegant pasta.

I made it again a couple of nights later, but with brown rice penne.  It didn’t turn out as starchy as with the corn spaghetti, and the penne noodles didn’t clump together.  I think a non-noodle gluten-free pasta is the way to go, to prevent the clumping from the starchiness of the resulting sauce.  I’d like to try a couple more varieties of gluten-free pasta to see how they work, but I think the ultimate and best way to enjoy this is with regular pasta.  One day I might throw all caution to the wind and give it a try, for research purposes of course.

This is a great base for a quick, delicious meal.  I served mine up with a side of grilled chicken and it was a satisfying, complete meal.

Give it a try… it really does work!

One-Pan Pasta – the gluten-free version (adapted from this recipe)

  • 12 oz gluten-free pasta, preferably a non-noodle type like penne
  • 12 oz cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (use less if you don’t like it as spicy)
  • 2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, basil, oil, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and water in a large straight-sided skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with basil.

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