Recipe of the week: One-Pot Pasta from Laurie David

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With this technique, you cook the pasta and sauce in the same pot at the same time. Photo by Quentin Bacon.
With this technique, you cook the pasta and sauce in the same pot at the same time. Photo by Quentin Bacon.

With this technique, you cook the pasta and sauce in the same pot at the same time. Photo by Quentin Bacon.

Laurie David’s work as a producer earned her an Academy Award for “An Inconvenient Truth,” and earlier this year, she revisited another set of inconvenience truths with “Fed Up,” a documentary about the extent to which food marketing skews our perception of both eating and cooking.

Rather than accept the messaging that dinner is too troublesome to cook yourself and that eating healthy means eating reduced-calorie, low-fat processed food, David set out with recipe developer Kirstin Uhrenholdt to write a cookbook that demystified the family meal.

The Family Cooks: 100+ Recipes to Get Your Family Craving Food That’s Simple, Tasty, and Incredibly Good for You” (Rodale, $27.99), like so many books coming out right now, tries to find the right balance between guilting people into cooking more and empowering them that it’s not that hard after all. People who cook often know that it’s not always a walk in the park to get dinner on the table but that it’s almost always worth the effort. David’s book offers plenty of ideas to help kickstart your attempts, including this pasta whose sauce cooks right in the pot.

One Pot Pasta

In just 20 minutes, and with only one pot to clean, you can have a family-dinner-size pasta dish to feed your friends and enough leftovers for a few more meals. The dried pasta is cooked right in the sauce, a time-saving and delicious trick Italian grandmothers use to infuse the pasta with lots of flavor. Choose a favorite rustic pasta shape that cooks in about eight to 12 minutes.

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves (or more to taste), chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes or 3 1/2 cups chopped, fresh tomatoes with their juices
1 bunch kale, ribs removed, chopped
2 sprigs fresh basil, chopped (or 2 Tbsp. pesto)
1 lb. whole grain (brown rice or whole wheat) pasta
Salt
About 4 cups water
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Red pepper flakes (optional)

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Drizzle in the olive oil. When it’s hot, add the garlic and let it get nice and golden (this color adds lots of flavor); it will only take about 30 seconds. Add the onion and cook until the onion is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, kale, basil (or pesto), pasta, salt and 4 cups water. Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

Cook the whole thing for the amount of time suggested on the pasta package, giving it an energetic stir every few minutes. If it starts to look too dry, add a slosh more water (about 1/2 cup at a time).

Once the pasta is al-dente, fold in the Parmesan. Taste! Does it need some red pepper flakes? A pinch of salt? Top with the fresh basil, maybe a shower of Parmesan.

Al dente means that the pasta still has a little chew to it. However, if you prefer mushy, make it mushy. It’s your dinner! Serves 6 to 8.

— From “The Family Cooks: 100+ Recipes to Get Your Family Craving Food That’s Simple, Tasty, and Incredibly Good for You” (Rodale, $27.99) by Laurie David and Kirstin Uhrenholdt


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