By Emma Chow

It’s been doing the rounds on the internet for well over a year now, that tempting, possibly too-easy-to-be-true one pot pasta recipe where you bung all the raw ingredients in one large pot, top with water, and in 20 minutes you have a perfect dinner for a family of 4.

I’ve eyeballed it many times, but never dared try it because I’ve been terrified that it doesn’t actually work and is one of those internet hoax things, like those doctored photos of men with biceps 5 times the size of their head and women who have gone from looking age 60 to age 30.

I’d hate to waste a pot full of good ingredients that if cooked separately in the traditional manner of boiling the pasta and making a sauce, would make a perfectly simple and predictable dinner. But I did it for science of the home economics kind, and found it was actually good.

The biggest fears with this dish are that the pasta will cook to oblivion or the sauce will be so soup-ily wet, but that didn’t happen. The starch released as the pasta cooks thickens the sauce, and if you follow the seasoning and ingredients exactly, each item contributes significant flavour to make a sweet-tart and delicious sauce.

This is the simple vegan version, but you can add sliced uncooked chorizo or diced chicken breast (cut to about 2cm square pieces). This would also work well with a diced zucchini or eggplant. You can serve with grated parmesan, but I found that it was flavoursome and a nice change to eat something totally vegan.


1 x 400g tin whole peeled tomatoes
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
10 large sprigs of basil
4 ½ cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
500 grams pasta (I like spaghetti)

  1. Dice the onion and finely chop the garlic. Remove the leaves from the basil and finely chop the stalks.
  2. Take a large soup or stock pot. Pour in the whole peeled tomatoes and add the rest of the ingredients (seriously all of them).
  3. Place on medium heat and bring to a boil with lid on.
  4. As soon as it is at boil, remove the lid or the sauce won’t reduce
  5. Cook for 15-20 minutes stirring every couple of minutes until the liquid has mostly evaporated and left a thick sauce and the pasta is just cooked.
  6. Serve immediately.

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