• One-pot puttanesca (Wok Vs Pot)Source: Wok Vs Pot
No one is ever going to say no to making less mess with maximum flavour.
Caterina Hrysomallis

31 Aug 2020 - 4:06 PM  UPDATED 1 Sep 2020 - 11:28 AM

--- Catch Silvia Colloca dishing up one-pot pasta alongside Marion Grasby in the three-part mini-series, Wok Vs Pot, Thursdays at 8pm from 27 August on SBS Food or stream it on SBS On Demand ---


How is it possible to cook pasta in one mere pot? Won't it turn to mush? What about all the starch?

To ensure you nail this brilliant hack, we've jotted down some tips from the experts.

Selecting the right ingredients

According to Italian-Australian chef Silvia Colloca, "I think one-pot pasta has come under fire a little bit, especially with some irate Italians who say you can't do a one-pot pasta."

On her new show, Wok Vs Pot, which she co-hosts with Marion Grasby, she shows how it can be a success.

Watch these hair twins show off their favourite recipes on Wok Vs Pot.

Having your ingredients organised and at the ready is important when it comes to a one-pot pasta – everything happens pretty quickly. Try to select ingredients with reasonably strong flavours to combat the starch the pasta releases. You could add anything from tinned fish to pickled vegetables.

Colloca shares her brother Giammarco's one-pot puttanesca recipe on the show. He's also a chef.

She starts by putting two tablespoons of oil in a pot, along with some garlic, anchovies, parsley, capers, pitted olives and penne.

Colloca explains, "Once you stir the pasta around, just as you would with rice, you get that coating of all the beautiful flavours on each and every single penna – which is singular for penne. Then you add your passata or chopped tinned tomatoes, whatever you've got on hand."

"Chuck in a parmesan or pecorino rind...That's another salty little bomb."

She pours in some water so the pasta is submerged about three centimetres, and cooks it for eight to nine minutes, in which time the penne will absorb the sauce.

"The last cooking hack to get even more flavour is if you've got one on hand, to chuck in a parmesan or pecorino rind, which I always tend to have in the fridge. That's another salty little bomb. Just stir it around and keep an eye on it for the next seven or eight minutes."

The liquid

Chef Patrizio Davidde from Just Italy, a collection of pasta shops-cum-restaurants in Melbourne, combines tinned tomatoes, chicken stock, salami, olives, basil and parmesan to create his one-pot pasta. When it comes to the liquid component, he does something a little different to Colloca.

"I don't use any water, I cook using the sugo and stock," Davidde says. This can reduce the starchy flavour that may result from your one-pot pasta.

Another item Davidde doesn't add is salt, a key point. If you're using ingredients like a salty salami or olives, you probably won't require any extra salt.

One pot penne with tuna, olives and capers

Use a large pot and be vigilant with your stirring.

If you opt for some spaghetti or linguine, ensure you use a large pot so the pasta is completely immersed in the cooking liquid. Otherwise, you'll have unevenly cooked pasta. For other less lengthy pasta shapes, you can use a smaller pot.

At the start "make sure you cook off things like onion and garlic," says Davidde. After combining all the ingredients into the pot, you may be tempted to put the lid on and walk away. But, you'll have to regularly stir your one-pot pasta so it doesn't stick to the bottom. 

Cooking the pasta al dente

Depending on the ingredients, the boiling point and heat level will be different from that of regular water. So there's one crucial point to ensuring one-pot pasta is cooked al dente or to the tooth: taste, taste, taste.

Davidde says if you're following his sugo and stock recipe, it should take 15-20 minutes to fully cook and for the sauce to reduce enough.

Serve with some parmesan and/or chilli, and enjoy. Buon appetito!

Pici with lemon mascarpone

The sauce doesn’t even need its own pan – it is simply warmed over the pot as the pasta is cooking – making for a simple meal that doesn’t require you to stand at the stove for long periods of time.

One-pot rose harissa chicken and apricot pilaf

With the flavours of a Moroccan tagine, this quick and easy one-pot is perfect for a mid-week meal. I’m using a ready-made harissa paste to add a depth of flavour and a smoky chilli kick. 

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Does cooking rice over a pot sound intimidating? This may change your mind.