In our house, Friday night is pasta night. It's a tradition that's been going on for years and years and it just doesn't feel like the end of the week without a bowl of pasta and a glass of red wine.
R usually cooks on Friday night and his pasta is covered with a rich tomato sauce, flavoured with garlic, olives and oregano, that takes well over an hour to cook.
If I'm in charge of dinner, then I want something much, much simpler.
My version of Friday night pasta is a one pot pasta, made with fresh tomatoes and spinach. It's a recipe I spotted on the clever Lottie and Doof's website and it originally comes from a Martha Stewart magazine, of all things.
It's a clever recipe, where both the pasta and the sauce are cooked in one saucepan. It seems to break every rule of pasta cooking and I'm sure I can hear the purists tutting already, but it's really, really good. The pasta exudes a starchiness, which combines with all the vegetables to make a delicious sauce.
My version, of course, has a lot more vegetable than the original - 340g of tomatoes and a bit of onion just doesn't cut it for dinner in this house. So I've upped the amount of tomatoes I use, added in some spinach and I also sneak some lentils or chickpeas in there, for extra veg and protein. All of this can be done, with no negative impact on flavour.
I love this meal, love how it tastes and love the simple alchemy that occurs in the saucepan.
One Pot Pasta with Tomato & Spinach
To make this meal you just pile all the ingredients together in one pan, add in some water, cover with a lid and then leave to cook slowly, for about 10 minutes. As with all my favourite recipes, it's very flexible - as long as you have tomatoes and pasta, you can make this meal. I frequently add in frozen spinach instead of fresh, swap between chickpeas and lentils and use garlic instead of onion. In the picture above I've added dried oregano, but at other times I'll sprinkle in some dried chill flakes, chopped olives or capers for extra oomph.
Makes 3 - 4 serves, depending on your appetite. I always make extra, as it's quite delicious the next day.
1 large handful fresh spinach - see notes below
1 cup cooked or canned lentils or chickpeas
1 tablespoon olive oil
Extra flavours - see notes below
100g feta or parmesan
What to do:
Prep the vegetables: Wash and then roughly chop the tomatoes. Add these to a large saucepan (with a lid). Cut the onion in half and then thinly slice each half. Thoroughly wash the spinach. Add both the onion and spinach to the tomatoes.
Add the rest of the pasta & sauce ingredients: Add the pasta, lentils / chickpeas, olive oil and any flavourings to the pan, together with 2 cups (500ml) of water. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the pasta: Cover the saucepan with a lid. Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the pasta is al dente and the sauce has thickened. I use a pair of tongs to turn the pasta a few times, during cooking, to prevent it sticking.
Serve with the feta or parmesan sprinkled on top.
You don't have to be careful when chopping the tomatoes, a rough chop is fine. The original recipe uses cherry tomatoes, which would be lovely, but a kilo of regular tomatoes is generally so much cheaper than a kilo of cherry tomatoes, so the regular tomatoes win.
If you don't have any fresh spinach, you could also make this with a couple of nuggets of frozen spinach.
I always add some kind of extra flavour to this meal. Either a tablespoon of dried oregano, a large pinch of dried chilli flakes, some chopped olives, a spoonful of capers, fresh basil - all are delicious.
This meal keeps really well in the fridge overnight - the flavours meld together and it's quite delicious the next day. I wouldn't freeze this meal.
It's also quite delicious topped with a poached egg!
- Suitable for vegetarians