Spaghetti all’assassina—or killer’s spaghetti—is a unique, one-pot pasta dish from Bari, Italy. The pasta is cooked start to finish in a skillet—no draining, no reserving pasta water, no extra dishes. It’s cooked much like risotto, with far less stirring: We add a warm tomato broth to the noodles a little at a time and cook the pasta, undisturbed, in an even layer so it chars and crisps, concentrating the umami-packed tomato broth. The finished dish is dryish, but pleasantly so, and deliciously intense in flavor, with tasty, crunchy-chewy bits similar to the edges of a baked lasagna. Watch Christopher Kimball make it on Instagram.

How to pack loads of flavor in a single pot

That killer spaghetti is just one of our many one-pot pasta dishes, which run the gamut of flavor options beyond tomato— from creamy cremini mushrooms and miso to smoky paprika and briny olives. In each case, the strategy is the same: Cook the pasta with other flavorful ingredients in a minimal amount of liquid. The starch from the noodles thickens things up, coating the noodles with a luscious, concentrated sauce.

Some of our favorites include:

  • Tortellini with Cherry Tomatoes and Salami: We brown fresh tortellini (the kind you get in the refrigerated section) in olive oil, a step that builds flavor in the dish. Cherry (or grape) tomatoes go into the pot along with a little water, some garlic, and chopped salami, so the tortellini can absorb the seasonings and meatiness of the salami as it simmers and softens.
  • Rigatoni Carbonara with Ricotta: For this one-pot meal inspired by Zuni Cafe’s Judy Rodgers, we fry bacon until crisp, then sauté garlic and red pepper flakes in the rendered fat before adding the pasta and a minimal amount of water. Off heat, a mixture of ricotta, Parmesan, eggs and yolks is mixed into the pasta, creating a creamy, cheesy sauce.
  • Campanelle Pasta with Asparagus, Lemon and Parmesan: This springtime pasta dish is an elegant one-pot meal; the pasta and asparagus start independently but finish together, simmered with half-and-half, so their flavors mix and meld.

Develop lots of meaty flavor with few dishes

Pasta isn’t the only thing that benefits from the one-pot treatment. Our Chicken en Cocotte (literally “chicken in a pot”), for instance, is cooked entirely in a Dutch oven, along with onion, garlic, thyme, and a little wine. There is very little prep involved, and most of the cooking is hands-off. Cooking the chicken breast side down allows the delicate white meat to gently poach in the wine while the legs bake up above, a technique that helps equalize the cooking of the white meat (done at 160°F) and dark meat (done between 175°F to 180°F). You can keep it simple, or play around with the flavor profile with any of our variations, including tangy-sweet apricots, saffron and tarragon, savory tomatoes, green olives and oregano, and the North African-inspired fennel, tomatoes and harissa.

Ropa Vieja is a natural fit for one-pot cooking. In this classic Cuban dish of shredded beef with tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers, often accented with the briny olives, we nestle meaty flank steak in a well-seasoned bed of vegetables, then cook in the oven until the meat practically falls apart.

If you’re looking for a one-pot bistro affair, our Steamed Mussels with Chorizo combines fresh mussels with smoky Spanish chorizo, fragrant fennel and a can of fire-roasted tomatoes for a restaurant-quality meal that takes all of 20 minutes. This Sesame Stir-Fried Pork is similarly speedy, thanks to the inclusion of funky, fermented kimchi, which provides the flavorful backbone in this one-pot dish.

And if it’s still a little cold and dreary in your part of the country, this rich and cheesy Leek, Kale and Emmentaler Panade transforms stale bread into a rustic casserole-like dish that’s sure to bring comfort. Leeks take the lead role and baby kale, hearty and deep green, is a nice add-in that doesn’t require any knife work (baby spinach is great, too, if that’s your preference). It’s a good way to get your vegetables on still-chilly spring nights (while we wait for the asparagus to come in).

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