One-Pot Wednesdays: Skillet Pasta

Kim Conte

skillet pasta

One-pot pasta puttanesca

Excuse me for a second while I get really, REALLY excited about something that normal people probably won't find that exciting: Last night I discovered that you can make an entire pasta dish in one pot. One pot!!! And a skillet nonetheless!

I always thought you had to use at least two pots: one to cook the sauce, and one to boil the pasta. But Cook's Illustrated has a bunch of recipes in which you cook the pasta right in the sauce. And it has completely turned my entire world upside-down (as if you couldn't tell already).

Seriously, this blows my mind. I might need to put myself on time out just to calm down...

...And we're back: The most important thing about cooking this particular skillet pasta is that you have to follow the recipe exactly to ensure that you have the correct ratio of pasta to cooking liquid. Too much liquid? The sauce will be watery, and the pasta mushy. Too little? Your pasta won't cook enough.

This recipe calls for 12 oz of strand pasta (spaghetti, angel hair, etc.). According to Cook's Illustrated, the best way to measure pasta is to weigh it with a scale. Huh, well I don't have one of those so the alternative is to bunch enough pasta together in a tight circle so that the diameter measures 1 3/4 inches. It's a little tricky, but, hey, if I could do it...

Pasta Puttanesca adapted from The Best Skillet Recipes by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated

3 (14.5) oz cans whole peeled tomatoes, pulsed in food processor until coarsely ground

3 tablespoons oil

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes



2 cups water

12 oz spaghetti, broken in half

1/4 cup chopped parsley (fresh or dried)

Parmesan cheese (to grate over top)

1/2 cup pitted black olives, chopped (optional)

3 tablespoons capers, rinsed (optional)

Cook garlic and red pepper flakes in 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-low heat until garlic is fragrant but not browned (about 1-2 minutes). Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes no longer taste raw.

Stir in water. Add pasta. Cover. Increase heat to medium-high and vigorously simmer (stirring often) until pasta is cooked (about 12-15 minutes).

Stir in remaining oil, parsley, salt, pepper, and olives and capers (if using). Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

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