Last weekend I got an email from Robyn with a link to this really cool recipe over at Apron Strings. I always love cooking pasta and rice in liquids other than water, so this idea for a one pot pasta dish (which is originally from Martha Stewart Living Magazine) was right up my alley!
This dish is incredibly easy and super flavorful. The pasta cooks in a mixture of broth, herbs, and aromatics, like onion and garlic, which really ramp up the flavor. The starch that leaches off of the pasta as it cooks helps create a thick sauce right in the pot. It’s magic! So fast, so easy, and SO flavorful. I do want to mention, though, that if you’re the type of person that can’t handle pasta any other way than al dente, you may not like this one. The pasta can get a little soft, if you let it cook even just a little too long.
I made a few changes, as usual, to fit my needs. First, instead of using fresh basil, which can cost an arm and a leg, I used frozen spinach for a pop of green and increased the dried basil to make up for the flavor. Second, I wanted more “stuff” in my pasta, so I used a larger can of diced tomatoes and reduced the amount of vegetable broth to compensate. Lastly, I added a light sprinkle of feta over top. Other great ideas for add-ins: mushrooms, parmesan, artichoke hearts, or olives.
I think next time I’ll save adding the frozen spinach until the end so that it will defrost and heat quickly from the pasta’s residual heat. That way the spinach will stay bright green and pretty, and it will not darken the pasta as it cooks. But hey, either way it tasted fantastic!
- 4 cups vegetable broth $0.52
- 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
- 12 oz. fettuccine $1.33
- 8 oz. frozen chopped spinach $0.79
- 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes $1.73
- 1 medium onion $0.43
- 4 cloves garlic $0.32
- ½ Tbsp dried basil $0.07
- ½ Tbsp dried oregano $0.07
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes $0.02
- freshly cracked pepper to taste $0.05
- 2 oz. feta cheese $0.87
- Add four cups of vegetable broth to a large pot. Break the fettuccine in half to make stirring easier later, and then add it to the pot. Also add the canned tomatoes (undrained), olive oil, frozen spinach, onion (thinly sliced), garlic (thinly sliced), basil, oregano, red pepper, and some freshly cracked black pepper.
- Make sure the ingredients are submerged under the liquid, place a lid on top of the pot, and then turn the heat on to high. Allow the pot to come up to a full, rolling boil over high heat then remove the lid and turn the heat down to medium.
- Allow the pot to continue to boil over medium heat, without a lid, for 10-15 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir the pot every few minutes as it cooks to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom, but avoid over stirring which can cause the pasta to become sticky and mushy. The pot must be boiling the entire time.
- After the pasta is cooked, crumble the feta cheese over top and serve.
Step by Step Photos
Start with four cups of vegetable broth. I use Better Than Bouillon soup base for all of my broths because it is much less expensive than boxed or canned broths and I can make any amount needed. These little jars last forever in the refrigerator, too, so it’s there whenever you need it. And no, I am not being paid to endorse it. :)
Then add this to the pot. I used half a bag, or 8 oz., of frozen spinach. I like to use the kind that is frozen loose in a bag because I don’t even have to bother thawing it, as opposed to the kind that is frozen in a block. Thinly slice the onion and garlic cloves. Add the entire can of tomatoes, juice included. I broke the fettuccine in half before adding it, so that it would be easier to stir later on.
Also add your herbs and spices. A half tablespoon each of basil and oregano, just a dash (about 1/4 tsp) of crushed red pepper flakes, and as much freshly ground pepper as you’d like. If you haven’t started to use a pepper grinder yet, you need to. The flavor is worlds away from pre-ground black pepper. These little disposable McCormmick pepper grinders are only about $3 and it lasts quite a while.
Once it reaches a full, rolling boil, you can remove the lid, turn the heat down to medium, and give it a stir. Make sure it’s still bubbling away when you turn the heat down. It needs to continue boiling for this to work. Let it boil for 10-15 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed or evaporated. Only stir once every few minutes to keep the pasta from sticking. Over stirring it can make the pasta overly mushy and sticky.
Whenever I buy a block of feta, I go ahead and cut it into four equal pieces so that I already have 2 oz. portions ready to go. I keep the rest in a resealable plastic container in my fridge. Because feta is so potent, you really only need a little to add a lot of flavor!