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ATK Kids

For Faster, More Flavorful Pasta, Cook the Noodles Right in the Sauce

It also means tender noodles, sauce with the perfect consistency, and easy cleanup.
By Published Dec. 30, 2021

Pasta is a staple of quick and easy weeknight dinners. But what if I told you there’s a way to make the process even faster and simpler? By skipping the separate boiling of the pasta and instead adding the dried noodles straight to the sauce, you can make a weeknight-friendly meal in just one pot. Bonus: It makes the pasta more flavorful, too.

The cooking liquid in this recipe is made up of crushed tomatoes and water. The tomatoes are there for flavor, while the water is necessary for achieving the proper texture and consistency. The pasta will absorb the extra water while cooking to become al dente—at the same time, the sauce will thicken. The end result is a cozy pasta dish all ready to eat in less than an hour.

You can find this recipe—and over a dozen more kid-friendly dinners—in The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs, the New York Times best seller that gives kids a comprehensive starting point for a lifetime of success in the kitchen. Now you can feel confident handing off dinner duty to the kids every now and then.

The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs

Using kid-tested and kid-approved recipes, America’s Test Kitchen has created THE cookbook every kid chef needs on their shelf. The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs has delicious recipes that will wow, whether your kid chef is cooking for themselves, their friends, or their family!  

One-Pot Pasta with Quick Tomato Sauce

Serves 4

  1. In Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute (oil should be hot but not smoking). Add 1 chopped onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often with wooden spoon, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in 4 minced garlic cloves and cook for 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes and ¼ teaspoon sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
  3. Carefully stir in 3¾ cups penne pasta and 3 cups water. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until pasta is tender, 16 to 18 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat. Drizzle pasta with extra olive oil and sprinkle ¼ cup chopped fresh basil over top. Use ladle to divide pasta and sauce among individual bowls. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

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