The secret to one-pot pastas

<span>Rachel Roddy's fagioli alla montanara – mountain-style bean, prosciutto and pasta soup</span><span>Photograph: Rachel Roddy/The Guardian</span>
Rachel Roddy's fagioli alla montanara – mountain-style bean, prosciutto and pasta soupPhotograph: Rachel Roddy/The Guardian

I make a tomato, kale and lemon one-pot pasta on repeat, but what other one-pot pastas should I try?
Linda, Belfast
“One-pot pastas have a particular brilliance to them,” says Anna Jones, who is behind the recipe of which you speak and whose latest book, Easy Wins, is published in March. Happily, this method, whereby you put the sauce ingredients, the pasta and the cooking water all in one vessel, can be taken in numerous directions, though Jones says it is especially well suited to “buttery, lemony, olive oil-type sauces”.

To achieve carb comfort, there are two schools of thought. The first, says Mateo Zielonka, author of The Pasta Man, is “to mix chopped vegetables – broccoli, onion, tomatoes, herbs – pasta and water in a pan and bring to a boil”. The other option would be to “cook onions, garlic and other vegetables in olive oil, then add the pasta and water, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed”. Either way, success hinges on ratios, so Linda will need equal amounts of pasta to water. “You can then play around with flavours,” Jones says, be that by adding citrus zest, bashed-up spices, a tablespoon of harissa or even miso. Her current favourite is finely chopped green olives and capers, which go into a pan with a load of lemon zest. “At the end, stir through green herbs. It’s simple, it’s bright and it’s delicious.”

Grated squash tossed in at the end of cooking is another good shout: “It softens and, when mixed with the starchy pasta water, creates a silky sauce,” Jones says. She might also add crushed coriander seeds, a pinch of cinnamon or sauteed red onions, “although you’d obviously have to cook those in a separate pan first“. Zielonka, meanwhile, would cook onions and garlic in oil until just golden, then add sliced mushrooms. “If you have any white wine to hand, add a splash and reduce. Next add rigatoni or casarecce, mix and cover with water.” A parmesan rind wouldn’t go amiss, either. Simmer until the pasta is al dente, then fold through chopped parsley or spinach, plus taleggio or cream.

Rosie Birkett, of the A Lot on Her Plate Substack, is currently into a “sort of hybrid between a sauce/soup and pasta; you end up with something slurpy, warming and delicious, and you have only one pot to clean”. This translates into a minestrone of sorts. She starts with “a version of soffritto – diced celery, onion, carrot – softened in olive oil and butter for a few minutes with salt and pepper, maybe some chilli, and spices such as coriander seeds or fennel seeds”. In goes chopped garlic followed by finely chopped chard stalks, a tin or jar of beans or chickpeas – “it works really well with red beans, though they can result in a sludgy colour” – chicken stock and leafy greens. “Snap spaghetti in half, then cook it in the stock until al dente. Take the pot off the heat, cover and let it settle for a couple of minutes, then add lemon juice and chopped herbs.” Top with pangrattato or grated parmesan, and drizzle with oil.

Finally, proving that nonna knows best, Rob Chambers, executive chef at Luca in London, heads back to his childhood with pasta e fagioli. “It’s a classic that my nonna used to make. In a large pot, combine cooked cannellini beans with finely chopped soffritto, a parmesan rind and chopped pancetta, guanciale or ham hock.” Chuck in “short and small” pasta and chicken stock, cook until al dente, then eat drizzled with oil, parsley and celery leaf. Soft, brown, substantial: perfetto!