One-Pot Pasta

Dry pasta is cooked right in the sauce, a timesaving and delicious trick Italian grandmothers use to infuse the pasta with lots of flavor. Choose a favorite variety (such as shells, penne, or fusilli) that cooks in about eight to 12 minutes. After the pasta has cooked, you may choose to fold in a spoonful of pesto, top the meal with a fried egg for added protein, or drizzle it with balsamic vinegar.


Makes six to eight servings

Preparation time: 20 to 22 minutes

  • 3 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves (or more to taste), chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • About 4 cups water
  • 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes or 3½ cups chopped fresh tomatoes with their juices
  • 1 bunch kale, ribs removed, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil, chopped, plus a few whole leaves for garnish
  • 1 lb. whole-grain (brown rice or whole wheat) pasta
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  1. Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over high heat, and drizzle in the oil.
  2. Add the garlic and let it get nice and golden; it will take only about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the onion and cook until it is translucent, about three to four minutes.
  4. Add the water, then the tomatoes, kale, basil, pasta, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  5. Cook until the pasta is al dente, giving the dish an energetic stir every few minutes (if it starts to look too dry, add a bit more water). Once the pasta is cooked, fold in the cheese and add the red pepper flakes, if desired.
  6. Top with the reserved basil.

This recipe is from The Family Cooks by Laurie David. Copyright © 2014 by Hybrid Nation Inc. By permission of Rodale Books. Laurie David is the producer of the 2014 documentary Fed Up and the 2006 Academy Award–winning film An Inconvenient Truth. She is also the author of the best-selling Stop Global Warming and the recipient of numerous honors, including the Audubon Society’s Rachel Carson Award. The recipe here is excerpted from her new book, The Family Cooks: 100+ Recipes to Get Your Family Craving Food That’s Simple, Tasty, and Incredibly Good for You.

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