Cookbook author and acclaimed food columnist Mark Bittman is dropping into the TODAY kitchen to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his iconic cookbook "How to Cook Everything" and share a few of his signature simple-to-prepare recipes. He shows us how to make one-pot pasta three ways: noodles with spinach and ricotta, penne with marinara sauce and fettuccine with Alfredo sauce.
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Instead of boiling pasta and making the sauce separately, you can add liquid incrementally to toasted pasta until it's tender — yes, like risotto, which in fact can be mimicked quite effectively if you use orzo. The starch in thick orecchiette or shells encourages a creamy sauce; breaking long strands into thirds or fourths delivers more contrasting textures. The cooking time and absorption rate might vary a bit, so be sure to add the water a little at a time and check frequently for doneness.
Two simple vegetarian additions turn simple one-pot pasta into a vibrant main dish. You can customize the ingredients to suit your taste. You can use any kind of noodle you prefer or switch up the greens with chopped kale, escarole or chard instead of spinach.
Replacing pasta water with canned diced tomatoes and adding a sharp pecorino Romano makes a perfect and slightly creamy tomato sauce. Add a fist full of fresh basil and you're set.
It doesn't take that much cream to make a creamy sauce with this one-pot method. But if you want even more richness, I won't stop you from adding another splash.
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