one pan pasta – the easiest midweek dinner

One pan pasta recipe

Last night was our usual frantic mid week evening that started with double swimming lessons, showering two soap-resistant children and battling the changing rooms before coming home with another pile of laundry to add to the existing pile of laundry. I made this easy one pan pasta when we got home and it was on the table in less than 20 minutes, it even gave me time to get the washing machine going mid way through. Hopefully it helps you on your own hectic nights.

One pan pasta – a new way of cooking pasta

This one pan pasta is a new way of cooking pasta in the sauce. Hence the one pan. It wins on two levels – it saves washing up and the pasta soaks in all sorts of delicious flavour as it cooks in the sauce. Because the pasta cooks in the sauce, no one can tell that you’ve used a brown/wholewheat pasta so it is an easy way to get a few more nutrients into everyone.

One pan pasta is a great child-pleaser and can easily be adapted. Once you’ve made it a couple of times you won’t even need to look at the recipe.

You can watch me make it in this short film.

You can switch up this one pan pasta recipe with different proteins

We often have this just with chickpeas (garbanzo beans). If I have a bit more time, we’ll use sausages or chicken. Here’s another version I posted a while back that uses chickpeas, rosemary and olives.

Pangrattato – the added extra that makes all the difference

Pangrattato is an Italian crunchy breadcrumb mixture, it was used instead of Parmesan in many parts of Italy. The recipe below is a bonus and I don’t always have the energy to make it. When I do, it really elevates things and the crunch provides a welcome balance to the comforting texture of the pasta.

Pangrattato is a great topping when you want to add crunch to any meal. It is fab on top of a stew or risotto, or on top of green beans or broccoli.

Make ahead and leftovers

If you want to make this one pan pasta ahead of time, cook through to stage 5 but don’t add the basil and cheese. Then set aside for a couple of hours, or in the fridge if you’re leaving it longer. Reheat in the pan, you may need to add a little water when you reheat as the pasta will dry out a little when it is stored.

Let any leftovers cool. Then wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days before reheating until piping hot.

One pan pasta ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 teaspoons rapeseed or olive  oil
  • Your choice of protein (see note above): Either 4-6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs or 4-6 sausages, casings removed – you get what you pay for and the herbier the sausage the better the finished dish. In the US, I like the sausages from the Whole Foods meat counter. Or 1-2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained.
  • 2 whole stems rosemary
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • quarter teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 800ml (27 fl ounces) passata or the same volume of canned chopped tomatoes – buy the kind with no added herbs
  • 700ml (3 cups) boiling water
  • 350g (12 ounces) wholemeal penne, brown rice or spelt penne is good here
  • 50ml (quarter cup) milk – any fat % works
  • A Parmesan rind if you have one
  • 70g (2.5 ounces) grated Parmesan or mature Cheddar cheese
  • 60g (2 ounces) basil, stems finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped
  • Optional – a couple of handfuls rocket (arugula) or watercress, chopped. Or a coffee cup of frozen peas
  • Red wine vinegar, sea salt and pepper to taste

Pangrattato ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled but squashed with a knife
  • 2 handfuls stale breadcrumbs, you can use them straight from the freezer
  • 1 stem of rosemary
  • sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, red chilli flakes to taste


You can now buy the equipment I use in this recipe through my shop. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools. I receive a small affiliate fee from Amazon if you buy via my link. The products don’t cost you any more. These small fees help me keep creating all the free content I share.

In this recipe I use:

  • A large deep frying pan, I use my Scanpan chef pan
  • Chef knife
  • chopping board
  • Microplane coarse
  • silicone spatula
  • kitchen scissors
  • measuring jug
  • small frying pan

How to make one pan pasta:

  1. Heat a 30cm / 12 inch high sided nonstick frying pan on a high heat then add the oil.

If using chicken – Use scissors to snip the chicken thighs into the pan. I like to cut the meat into pieces about as big as my thumb. They should sizzle as they hit the pan. If not, turn the heat up. Once all the chicken is in the pan, scatter a big pinch of salt over the chicken. Leave the chicken pieces without moving for 5 minutes. This gives it chance to get a golden crust but it doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through yet.

If using sausagessqueeze the meat from the casings, straight into the hot pan. Squash flat then leave to cook for 5 minutes without moving so that it develops a nice golden crust, then flip and cook 3 minutes on the other side before breaking it up with the side of a spoon, the meat doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through yet.

If using chickpeas – wait until stage 4 to add them

2. Add the garlic, black pepper and chilli flakes to the pan and mix. Then fry over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3. Add the passata or canned tomatoes, boiling water, Parmesan rind, whole rosemary stems, raw pasta, milk and a further pinch of salt to the pan. If you are using chickpeas, now is the time to add them. Stir and then cover with a lid or foil. Cook, stirring often, and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain vigorous simmer until the penne is almost tender and the sauce is thicker. This usually takes 15 to 18 minutes depending on the brand of pasta.

4. While this cooks, make the pangrattato. Heat the oil in a second frying pan on a medium heat and add the whole peeled cloves of garlic, a pinch of chilli flakes and the stem of rosemary. Cook for a minute or two to flavour the oil. After a minute, add the breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Continue to cook on a medium heat for around 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so until it smells toasty and garlicy and rustles dryly when you shake it. Take off the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

5. Take the pasta off the heat and stir in the cheese and chopped basil and any greens, if using. You could add some frozen peas at this stage too – the heat of the pasta will quickly defrost them. Taste and adjust seasoning. I always add red wine vinegar to brighten everything up and usually need extra salt and pepper too. Remove the Parmesan rind before serving.

6. At this stage the pasta can be served with a final grating of cheese on top (I usually do) or with the pangrattato sprinkled on top.

Get more recipes like this

Find more recipes for one pan, chicken thighs, chickpeas and passata here.

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