’Tis the season for comfort food!
But you knew that already. I mean, that’s why you’ve been whipping up apple-stuffed waffles every Sunday morning, and baking up gooey toffee cookies any time you get a hankering for a midnight snack, right?
Good. That’s what I thought.
I could really give you an entire speech about why autumn is unequivocally the best season. I could tell you all about my love of crimson crunchy leaves and sweet salted caramel lattes, and I could easily bore you with my stance on Fall fashion (okay, not only is it the most comfortable, it’s also the cutest. And helloooo, men in vests!). But…I think all of that’s been said before. So I’ll just focus on the food, shall I?
If you’ve ever wanted a really easy pasta dinner in under thirty minutes, I have your answer. If you want to eat a hefty serving of veggies tonight, but also want them to come with a healthy dose of carbs and cheese, I’ve got you covered. And if you want to make sure you’ll have enough food to last you through the winter, fear not. This one-pot veggie pasta was made just for you.
The beauty of it lies in its versatility. I was going to call this “kitchen sink pasta”, because I pretty much threw in everything except the kitchen sink. Original? Not particularly. Tasty? You betcha.
So feel free to add or swap out ingredients for whatever you have on hand, and play around with the spices. I took a page out of Smitten Kitchen’s book and used nutmeg because I love the subtle, warm fall flavor (and it went beautifully with the earthy spinach and mushrooms).
Just a few notes:
I used a salted broth, so if your broth is low-sodium (or if you want to use plain water), be sure to add salt when you add the pasta.
I also used fontina cheese because it’s a dream when it melts, but feel free to use your favorite cheese – if it’s a hard cheese, you may find that you need to add a bit more milk at the end. You could even bump up the amount of cheese to up to two cups if you wanted a more mac-and-cheese-like dish (again, you would need to add more milk), but I’ve found that one cup yields cheesy pasta that isn’t overly heavy. You could also go the other way and omit the cheese altogether to make this vegan. Versatility, guys! It’s what’s for dinner.
Oh, and it’s all made in one pot. Aside from chopping all your ingredients up, all you have to do for dinner is clean this one pot. “One pot pasta” started as a trend a couple years ago, but I only recently tried it for myself. I had it in my head that it would only result in over-cooked, mushy pasta and rubbery veggies, and that only people who had never had good pasta would enjoy it. (Yes, I can be pretentious in my head sometimes. SORRY.)
But I could not have been more wrong, and here I am to prove it to you.
One Pot Vegetable Pasta
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-2 medium onions, sliced
5 cups (16 ounces) crimini mushrooms, sliced
1-2 red bell peppers, sliced into 2” strips
1 cup cannellini beans
3 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped
6 cups baby spinach
4 cups broth (I used all-natural chicken broth, any broth will work)
2 cups milk
1 lb. cavatappi, or similar short pasta
8 ounces fontina cheese, grated
parmesan cheese, grated, to serve
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven (or large, heavy-bottomed pot). When the oil is hot, toss in the onions and season with a pinch of the salt and pepper. Cook on medium-low until translucent, then add the mushrooms and season with more salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the mushrooms have given up their water and it has boiled off.
Create a well in the center of the pot and add the garlic into the remaining oil, allowing it to fry until almost browned. Throw in the chopped red pepper and cannellini beans, season with the rest of the salt and pepper, and add the nutmeg. Stir everything together, then pour in the broth, milk, and pasta.
Raise the heat for a few minutes to bring the liquid to a boil, then cover the pot and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 7-9 minutes, until the pasta is done – it will have absorbed most of the liquid and should be al dente. Remove from heat and immediately mix in the spinach and cheese, stirring until the cheese has melted. Add more salt and pepper to taste, then serve with freshly grated parmesan.
I dare you to not feel comforted.