Last summer, in the course of one week, I saw three recipes posted for an identical dish. Authored by Martha Stewart, it involved putting the entire contents of a pasta dinner into one pot and firing the stove up to create a meal that was only missing its Parmigiano Cheese which was added once the pasta went into bowls. We don’t eat a lot of pasta in the summer and when summer tomatoes are as good as ours are on Long Island, the grape or cherry tomatoes called for here just don’t cut it. But when the last of the Romas and Beefsteaks disappear, nothing is more welcome than the see-through clamshells filled with perfectly ripe, sweet little tomatoes. There are plenty of varieties to choose from. Even small heirlooms are in the mix. So one night last week, I went on a search for the recipe. Lo and behold, there was Martha Stewart herself, on video, making the dish while assuring us that it was the viral sensation on the internet I’d witnessed last summer. So off I went and made it myself. The results were intriguing to say the least.
Andrew said it first, after dipping into the bowl of this miracle pasta: It doesn’t seem possible that it would be any good. It is completely counter-intuitive. You’ve spent the last however-many-years laboring over pasta sauces in one pot, noodles in another. The cooking is followed by that moment of prayer that somehow the sauce will blend with the pasta, coating it with flavor. Not with this recipe. The deep straight-sided skillet looks beautiful with the entire contents of your dinner arrayed before you. The water is added, brought to a boil and you begin stirring, melding the ingredients together and what finally emerges is pasta complete with tomato-y, onion-y, garlic-y sauce with a kick of red pepper. Spooned into bowls, topped with parmigiano, it becomes the definition of a one dish dinner. It’s one that every college student living off campus and every first apartment dweller should be sent by their parents. It is that easy and that good. In fact it was such a revelation that I could hardly wait to see if I could make another pasta favorite the same way. And could I ever.
Days after my first foray into One Dish Pasta, I was keen on creating a dish featuring one of my favorite of all pastas. Orecchiette means ‘little ear’ in Italian. If you make your own, you would use your thumb to create the little bowl that characterizes the pasta. The advantage of their shape is that these bowls are excellent for catching the sauce in so, unlike spaghetti or fettucine, they actually hold the sauce rather than just being coated with it. The recipe varies from the first One Dish Pasta in that the sausage and onion is cooked in the dish for about 15 minutes before the Orechiette is added. The cooking liquid is not water this time, it’s chicken stock and it’s added in as needed. Finally, once the pasta is cooked, the arugula is mixed in and wilts into the mixture. I chose to add Burrata to the finished pasta bowls. This may be too rich for your recent college grad, but if he or she wants to impress, this meltingly creamy cheese will do the trick. If budgetary concerns overrule the Burrata, a handful of Parmigiano will stand in perfectly well. Here are the recipes:
Recipe for One Dish Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Onions
Serves 4. Prep Time: 15 mins Total Time: 20 mins.
12 ounces linguine or spaghetti
12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
1 onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 1/2 cups water
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
1. 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.
2. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes.
3. Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide among 4 bowls, and garnish with basil. Serve with oil and Parmesan.
Recipe for One Dish Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage and Arugula Serves 4. Prep Time 15 mins. Cook time 25 mins.
Total time 40 minutes
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 onion, diced
16 ounces of Chicken Sausage, sliced into ¾ inch pieces.
3 ½ cups Chicken Broth, divided or as needed
2 ½ cups Orecchiette Pasta or to taste
1 cup Baby Arugula or to taste
½ Boule of Burrata cheese per serving
or ½ cup Pamigiano Reggiano Cheese grated.
1. Over medium heat, heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the onions with a pinch of salt, until they are translucent, 5-7 mins.
2. Stir in the sausage and cook until brown, 5 to 7 mins.
3. Pour 1 ½ cups of chicken broth into the sausage mixture and bring to a boil. Add the orecchiete, taking care to make sure the orchiette do not stick together but go into the pot individually. Cook and stir the pasta adding broth as the Orecchiette absorb it. You may have to do this several times until the pasta is cooked through and most of the broth is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
4. Stir the arugula into the pasta sausage mixture until it wilts.
5. Ladle pasta in to bowls and crown each portion with a half boule of Burrata. Season the Burrata with freshly ground pepper and a splash of olive oil. Serve at once.