Last week I experimented with one-pot, one-pan meals.
I do quite a fair bit of these already, like fried rice, fried noodles, but I had never really done a one-pot pasta. What I mean by that is the pasta itself gets cooked in the broth, instead of in boiling water, drained and then added back to the pot.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure if it would work! Would it be too salty from the broth? Would there be enough liquid leftover so that the pasta wouldn’t be too dry?
But the recipe at Budget Bytes for Bacon and Spinach Pasta was really simple and she even has step-by-step photos to follow along in case you need that. You can click on the link for more details. But essentially the steps were:
Crisp up your bacon, remove, drain most of the oil (save it for something else!), leaving about a tablespoon of bacon fat in the pot. Add a chopped up shallot, I also added some chopped up garlic. Then after it softens, add in the broth. I was planning to cook about 3/4 of the pasta packet (3/4 of a pound), so I added more broth than called for in the recipe. Also I have to add that my chicken broth was the kind of paste that comes in a glass jar. It was in no way a homemade chicken broth or even one of those tetrapak ones, but it still worked fine. Because of the bacon and the saltiness of the broth (at least with the broth I used), no salt is required but I did grind in some black pepper and an ‘everyday seasoning’ from Trader Joe’s. I didn’t add in Parmesan cheese either.
The kids loved it. Even the 2-year-old who is the “no vegetables!!” stage, was happy to eat the spinach, partly because he got the ‘crunchies’ (i.e. the bacon) with it. And it disappeared before I remembered to take a photo for posterity. So you’ll just have to take my word for it. Tasty. I will definitely be cooking my pasta in chicken broth again. Although I’m not sure if it will really work for all other kinds of pasta.
The other one-dish meal I made last week was a one-pan chicken and root vegetable dinner. Technically it was a one-Pyrex-dish meal. I chopped up carrots, butternut squash and celery and halved some red potatoes. A drizzle of olive oil, a few twists of the pepper mill, some shakes of garlic salt and a herb mix, and toss directly in the pyrex dish. Lay the chicken drumsticks on top, also seasoned similarly, and nestle the potatoes among the chicken.
I’ve read some recipes that say to lay the vegetables and chicken in a single layer, but my dish was a bit smaller than I expected and it didn’t work that way for me. I made sure to have the chicken and potatoes on top though so that they could crisp up a bit. My oven was at 400F convection. I turned the chicken drumsticks about halfway through. And I think the dish was in the oven for about 30-40 minutes.
Ta da! An easy convenient meal with minimal prep, minimal washing up, yet it has lots of flavour. You could easily add in or change it to other vegetables like Brussels sprouts, parsnips or sweet potatoes.
My four-year-old raved about the butternut squash which really surprised me!
What one-pan or one-pot meals do you like to cook?
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