One Pot Pasta Disaster

January 11, 2014

So I came across a number of recipes online for something called ‘one pot pasta’. The idea is that you sling everything – pasta, ingredients for the sauce, water – into a pan, and just sort of stir it about until the pasta absorbs the water and miraculously, you are left with perfect pasta and sauce. Except that is not what happens. I can honestly say that this is a crime against pasta.

Now I know the idea of the all in one was always going to be controversial, and I have to say I wasn’t particularly convinced either, but curiosity got the better of me and I had to know for sure. I’ve heard of the ‘risotto’ method, and I get the idea of the starchy, creamy sauce, but this, THIS, was precisely the consistency of…wallpaper paste. Use your imagination. My mother reads this blog. The sauce was the very definition of gloopy. The pasta was just about passable as ‘cooked’. It could have been used to glue things together in place of, say, Araldite. It was horrible, truly, BUT the bigger, more important question here is, WHY? Why bother? To save yourself from washing up ONE extra pan? Well, maybe it’s easier to just chuck everything in at once, I hear you saying, rather than cooking out an onion for a sauce for example, before adding other ingredients. Well let me tell you, it isn’t less effort, because you have to stand there and stir the bloody thing, the most effective way to do this being to use tongs. Ever tried to use tongs for any sustained period of time? It’s quite taxing on the wrist, actually. Taxing on the wrist and at the end you’re left with a sticky mess (I feel this marks the moment when my mother stops reading forever).

The pan is soaking in the sink, because the ‘sauce’ stuck to the bottom of it. The pasta is in the bin. Talk about a problem that didn’t need solving.

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    Reply Gene January 11, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    I remember as a kid my mother tried something like this. Completely ruins the texture of the pasta and, as you said, doesn’t really save you any time in the end. Crimes against pasta are truly horrendous. Intrigued about your new book subject!

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      Reply Helen January 11, 2014 at 6:45 pm

      Yes, agreed on the texture. Deeply unpleasant.

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    Reply Deena Kakakya January 12, 2014 at 12:22 am

    I love it when food presenters hold a plate of muck up and say, ‘ mmmm, delicious’ …I wonder if they swapped the one-pot-pasta with some proper stuff x

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      Reply Helen January 12, 2014 at 9:27 am

      If I ever see one pot pasta on telly it will be THE END OF DAYS.

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    Reply Cate Lawrence January 12, 2014 at 12:44 am

    I saw a version of this recipe last week and the writer was raving about it. Your post confirmed my suspicions.

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      Reply Helen January 12, 2014 at 12:46 am

      I genuinely feared I was alone. I breathe a sigh of relief.

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    Reply Stephen January 12, 2014 at 9:00 am

    ooh err missus!

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    Reply Ms Marple January 12, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Very spunky of you to try tho’

    Well done, jolly good show!

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen January 12, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      Thanks er, Ms Marple

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    Reply Jacob January 12, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    One pot pasta is tricky as most of the ingredients have different cooking times and you tend to get a gloopy result. I would suggest to make a stew including meat and the sauce leave for an hour or so and then add the pasta just for the cooking time that is included in the instructions (it differs by manufacturer). A good inspiration are the greek recipes of giouvetsi (with orzo) or hilopites (with egg noodles).

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      Reply Helen January 12, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      Well yes but I think you are missing the point. Yes, there are recipes where pasta is added later on, but they are genuine recipes, the methods are legitimate. My point was that there are lots of ‘one pot’ recipes out there which are completely pointless as they try to adapt a method that does not need adapting and they produce a worse result. Do you see where I’m coming from?

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    Reply Lee January 12, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Ha, funny. Good to read a “this is crap, don’t bother” blogpiece from time to time. Have you got any other culinary monstrosities you feel like sharing?!

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      Reply Helen January 12, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      Um, no. I’ll let you know if I do though. I like to have a rant.

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    Reply Jacob January 12, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    To be honest any description of “one bowl”, “one pot”, “4 ingredients”, “15 minutes” for any recipe is a “a recipe for disaster” (pun intended). Cooking should be an enjoyment and a learning process, people who always look for shortcuts should probably be better eating out.

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      Reply Helen January 12, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      I wasn’t looking for a short cut, I was intrigued by a recipe as I am a cook and I am curious about all recipes, and all methods. It was something I tried for a laugh, because I knew it wouldn’t work.

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    Reply Jacob January 12, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    My comment was general and not aiming you. It goes mainly to the vast market of cookbooks and tv shows that propagate the one bowl/15minutes/4ingredients mantras. A low number of ingredients/quick cooking/low number of utensils might be part of the recipe but it should never be the key issue behind a recipe.

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      Reply Helen January 12, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      Oh! I see. My apologies, I misunderstood you. As a cook, I obviously relish the opportunity to spend time over a recipe and so am not the target audience for those shows as clearly you are not either. I do think they have some value in encouraging people to actually cook, when they may have previously bought rubbish ready prepared food, but also they are unrealistic and mainly, it’s a very expensive way to cook. I am thinking of one show in particular!

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    Reply Niamh January 14, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    hey! Congrats on the book – great news. Sorry about the pasta. UGH.

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      Reply Helen January 15, 2014 at 11:40 am

      Thanks Niamh x

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    Reply Julie January 15, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    As well as having the same consistency, did the creamy sauce taste like it too?

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      Reply Helen January 15, 2014 at 12:25 pm

      No idea what you’re talking about, sorry

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    Reply The Graphic Foodie January 15, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Never come across this style of cooking pasta in all my life! Although I havent tried it vodka seems quite a popular pasta sauce dish. Usually with penne or spaghetti. The Geometry of Pasta book has some quite left-field sauces, I recall a few with booze.

    Also I made a potato and brandy ravioli dish from the Pasta Silver Spoon edition that was remarkably wonderful.

    Good luck with the book!

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      Reply Helen January 17, 2014 at 9:23 am

      Thank you! I shall have a look at that book, too.

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    Reply The Crown Woodbridge January 30, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Haha interesting recipe!

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    Reply Suha May 19, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    OMG…I just horribly botched my family meal with one of this recipes(A Martha Stewart one!!!!)…it went all wrong…

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      Reply Helen May 19, 2015 at 7:02 pm

      Not just me then!

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