Fancy a quick and simple dinner that tastes good and involves minimal washing up? One-pot pasta is here to save the day.
Ready in just 20 minutes, this versatile recipe can be easily adapted depending on what you have to hand in the kitchen.
I'm all for taking the time to cook nice pasta dishes with flavourful sauces where everything comes together at the end. But, speaking as someone who recently became a father, there are times when speed and simplicity are key.
What is one-pot pasta?
One-pot pasta basically means that your pasta and sauce are all cooked together in the same pan, rather than cooking the elements separately and then combining.
Pasta purists may not like the idea, but it's a seriously convenient way to get dinner on the table without creating too much mess. Also – and arguably more importantly – you'll have less washing up to do since there's no need for a separate pot and colander to cook and drain the pasta.
Why I love it
- It can be ready in 20 minutes from start to finish
- It really is just one pan – there's no need for a separate pan and colander to cook and drain the pasta
- You can use the empty tomato tin to measure the exact amount of water required for this amount of pasta (two servings)
- You can add any quick-cooking veg
- It's low-fat and oil-free
- It can easily be made gluten-free
Which pasta is best?
You can make this dish with pretty much any dried pasta variety you like, but I think spirals (fusilli or rotini) work particularly well as they're less likely to stick together.
Generally speaking, you'll get better results with smaller shapes that are easy to stir from the start and don't have to soften first (like spaghetti, for example).
This recipe also works with gluten-free pasta – just bear in mind that it can be a bit sensitive to over-cooking so keep an eye on it.
Which vegetables should I use?
You'll want to use any veg (and mushrooms) that will cook relatively quickly and you can chop into small-ish pieces. This includes frozen veg such as spinach or peas.
I went for half a small head of broccoli (chopped), about 6 closed cup mushrooms (sliced), and half a red pepper (deseeded and chopped). FYI broccoli is also a great one to include in this 15-minute chickpea stew.
Adding flavour to vegan one-pot pasta
To make this recipe as quick and simple as possible, it's all about using dried seasonings that don't need to be fried or cooked separately.
In this case, I use a combination of dried mixed herbs, garlic powder (or granules), smoked paprika, and nutritional yeast. If you don't have dried mixed herbs, you can recreate this with the likes of dried sage, basil, oregano, thyme, and marjoram.
What you'll need
In addition to all the spices and veg mentioned in the sections above, this recipe basically boils down to a few simple ingredients:
- Dried pasta of your choice (gluten-free if necessary)
- Tinned tomatoes for the base of the sauce
- Water that you can measure using the empty tomato can
How to make vegan one-pot pasta
To a large pan, add the tinned tomatoes, mixed herbs, garlic powder, smoked paprika, nutritional yeast, chopped veg, and water.
The empty tomato can will hold the right amount of water (1¾ cups / 14 oz / 400 ml), so you can simply fill this to the top with water and add.
Season with salt and pepper, stir well, and bring everything up to a simmer over medium/high heat.
This may take 5 minutes or so (a lid on the pan can help to speed things up).
Once simmering, add the dried pasta. Stir well and make sure all the pieces are submerged.
Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring now and then (no need for a lid).
The closer you get to the end of the cooking time, the more you'll want to stir. The original liquid amount should be enough, but add a splash of extra water if necessary.
After 10-12 minutes, the pasta should be cooked al dente and the sauce will have thickened thanks to the starch from the pasta.
Remove from the heat and serve.
If available, chopped fresh parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice make for nice additions to this dish.
You could also top with a little homemade cashew parmesan or super seed mix, or mix in homemade cashew cream or vegan pesto for a slightly different sauce (extra points for wild garlic pesto when in season).
Yes – some of the liquid will be absorbed by the pasta, some will evaporate during cooking, and the rest of the dish will be thickened by the starch in the pasta. This is just like when you add pasta cooking water to the sauce in other recipes (see this pasta puttanesca and pasta with hummus sauce, for example).
You'll want to use small shapes that are easy to stir from the beginning (such as fusilli or rotini, not spaghetti). You'll also want to stir more regularly as you get to the end of the cooking time.
This recipe works with gluten-free pasta (just note that it can be a bit sensitive to over-cooking so keep an eye on it).
Store in the fridge for three to four days or freezer for up to six months.
Variations and tips for one-pot pasta
- Quantities: I've tested this several times and it's intended to be a quick recipe for two servings. If scaling up the amounts, note that the ingredients may take longer to bring to a simmer and the required liquid amounts may vary.
- Extra protein: If you want to add ingredients such as tofu or tempeh, you may want to cook these separately before adding. You could also sprinkle over nuts and seeds when serving.
- Heat: Add fresh chilli or chilli powder if you want a bit of a kick.
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More vegan recipe ideas
If you liked this recipe, you might also enjoy:
Easy Vegan One-Pot Pasta
- 1x 14 oz (400 g) tin tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs (plus more to taste, see notes)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder or granules
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- Mixed veg of your choice, sliced or chopped (I used ½ small broccoli, ½ red pepper, and 6 mushrooms – see notes)
- 1¾ cups (14 oz / 400 ml) water
- 5 oz (150 g) dried pasta (I like fusilli or rotini, GF if necessary)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- To a large pan, add the tinned tomatoes, mixed herbs, garlic powder, smoked paprika, nutritional yeast, chopped veg, and water. The empty tomato can will hold the right amount of water (1¾ cups / 14 oz / 400 ml), so you can simply fill this to the top with water and add.
- Season with salt and pepper, stir well, and bring everything up to a simmer over medium/high heat. This may take 5 minutes or so (a lid on the pan can help to speed things up).
- Once simmering, add the dried pasta. Stir well and make sure all the pieces are submerged. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring now and then (no need for a lid).
- The closer you get to the end of the cooking time, the more you'll want to stir. The original liquid amount should be enough, but add a splash of extra water if necessary.
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