One Pot Pasta Disaster

I am writing a book about cooking with BOOZE. Yuh huh. It’s not just about going out and getting drunk, coming home and knocking something up, far from it, but the fact remains that there is that angle to be covered. So I have covered it. I am covering it. I am testing recipes, anyway. Pasta must surely be in everyone’s drunken repertoire? It’s really simple to make, really stodgy, sorts you out a bit in the morning and is really satisfying at the time. The only thing more satisfying than a carb binge is a drunken carb binge. No guilt.

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.

Category: Books, Monumental Fail, Pasta | Tags: , 25 comments »

25 Responses to “One Pot Pasta Disaster”

  1. Gene

    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!

  2. Helen

    Yes, agreed on the texture. Deeply unpleasant.

  3. Deena Kakakya

    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

  4. Cate Lawrence

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

  5. Helen

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

  6. Stephen

    ooh err missus!

  7. Helen

    Ha ha!

  8. Helen

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

  9. Ms Marple

    Very spunky of you to try tho’

    Well done, jolly good show!

  10. Helen

    Thanks er, Ms Marple

  11. Jacob

    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).

  12. Helen

    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?

  13. Lee

    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?!

  14. Helen

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

  15. Jacob

    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.

  16. Helen

    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.

  17. Jacob

    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.

  18. Helen

    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!

  19. Niamh

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

  20. Helen

    Thanks Niamh x

  21. Julie

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

  22. Helen

    No idea what you’re talking about, sorry

  23. The Graphic Foodie

    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!

  24. Helen

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

  25. The Crown Woodbridge

    Haha interesting recipe!


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