One Pot Pasta – v.2

I am so enamoured with the idea of One Pot Pasta, that the night after I first discovered it I made it all over again! This version didn’t contain tomatoes and therefore tasted less ‘Italian’ – instead it was peppery, herby and garlicky, and the bacon contributed a lovely saltiness.

This version of One Pot Pasta was full of lovely veggies – just what this pregnant lady needed. One of the things Steve and I noted after the first week of the Basic Kitchen Project is that we missed green vegetables. This isn’t to say that we ate badly. I find that carrots are one of the cheapest ways to get vegetables into your diet and we have relied quite heavily on them both weeks. This week however we made a trip to the market and added some more green.

Once again this made two evening meals and two lunches – I am eating the leftovers ‘as we speak’ (‘as I write’ would be more accurate).

One Pot Pasta


  • half and onion
  • a clove of garlic
  • a large carrot (well, almost – I ate a chunk of it raw before it got into the pan!)
  • broccoli
  • bacon
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried herbs
  • lots of black pepper!
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (from my garden)
  • about 3/4 pint chicken stock (once again I didn’t measure it, sorry!)

one pot pasta

The method is almost exactly the same as when I made it previously the only thing to mention is that I added the broccoli about 5 minutes after the pasta so it didn’t go ‘soggy’. So, rather than waffle on about the method I will get straight to the costs.


  • One onion – £0.09
  • A clove (or two) of garlic – £0.05
  • A large carrot – £0.13
  • Broccoli – £0.45 (this was the remains of the what I used with the sausages & chips, so about a third of a head)
  • Bacon – £0.15 (see my note on buying bacon at the bottom of this post)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed herbs – £0.01
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes – £0.01
  • Stock cube – £0.04
  • Fresh parsley from my garden – free
  • 4 cups of wholewheat pasta – £0.29

Total = £1.22

One  things which is making my limited store cupboard more tolerable is growing fresh herbs. I will write about this in another post.

One Pot Pasta

One Pot Pasta

This is a one-pot-wonder! A very simple pasta recipe which leaves you with very little washing up – winner.

The cost was approximately £1.50 for four portions – dinner for two plus leftovers for lunch. I have just eaten my leftovers outside in the sunshine, which is the first time I have eaten al fresco this year – always an significant occasion I feel!

One of the things I have been struggling with since stripping down my utensils to (more than) the bare minimum is only having one saucepan. Since starting the Basic Kitchen project I have struggled with anything which is served with pasta or rice. When I made veggie chilli I had to make the chilli, put it to one side, wash the pan and then cook the rice. When I made the delicious spicy stew I was too tired and hungry to spend time washing the pot and cooking rice so we dipped bread in it instead. This is an important point. I was clear at the outset of this little project that I am coming at this from a position of privilege – I do have money, I work part time so I do have time and usually energy, I love cooking and don’t consider it a chore. If it is difficult for me to cook with only one pan how much more so for someone who, for example, is working long hours for little pay or who is a carer?

So, discovering that pasta can be cooked this way was a revelation. I also think that the pasta is tastier because it absorbs the stock and tomato.

One of the nice things about this recipe is that it can be almost infinitely varied, so it is great for using up things which you have in the fridge. For this meal I used a base of bacon, onion and mushroom, but the recipe which gave me the inspiration used veggie sausages, sundried tomatoes, spinach and soy cream.

Have a go! Experiment! I would love to know what variations you make.

One Pot Pasta


  • One onion
  • A clove (or two) of garlic
  • 125g Cooking Bacon (see note below)
  • About 5 mushrooms
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed herbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • Black pepper
  • Tin of tomatoes
  • 1/2 pint vegetable or chicken stock (note, if you are not adding a tin of tomatoes you will need more liquid)
  • 4 cups of wholewheat pasta


Fry the onion, garlic and bacon in a little oil and black pepper; when cooking with bacon you only need minimal oil because the bacon fat will melt. After a few minutes add the mushrooms, chilli and mixed herbs.

Boil the kettle to make the stock (I had to guess the amount because I don’t currently have a measuring jug – all part of the fun of the Basic Kitchen project!). Add the pasta, tinned tomatoes and stock to the pan and give everything a good stir. Cook on a low heat with a lid on the pan for ten to fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally. You may find that you need to add a little more boiling water if the sauce begins to dry out. Test the pasta to see if it is how you like it (I like mine to still have a bit of ‘bite’) and taste the sauce. Add further seasoning if necessary.

Serve with some cheese on top.


  • One onion – £0.09
  • A clove (or two) of garlic – £0.05
  • Bacon – £0.15 (see below note)
  • About 5 mushrooms – £0.47
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed herbs – £0.01
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes – £0.01
  • Tin of tomatoes – £0.40
  • Stock cube – £0.04
  • 4 cups of wholewheat pasta – £0.29

Total cost = £1.51  – pretty good for four servings!

A note on bacon. By far the most cost effective way to buy bacon is to get what I call the ‘scrag ends’ – the bits which the butcher ends up with when he has cut all the perfect shaped rashers. I usually try to get this at the butchers because it is a cheap way to get high quality meat, however, I did my shopping in Tesco this week so the bacon was seriously cheap but not ‘butchers quality’. Buying bacon in this way is always a bit of a surprise – sometimes you get tiny offcuts, other times thick pieces which are almost gammon steaks. This packet contained three gammon steaks – so guess what we will be having for supper later in the week! So, all in all, 60p well spent!

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Spicy Tomato Pasta

This was a very quick, cheap and delicious midweek meal – the chilli was a bit wicked though! I’m not sure that the picture does it justice, I find pasta particularly difficult to photograph (any tips welcome!).

This served two people, with extra for a lunch.

spicy tomato pasta


  • a red onion
  • a large clove of garlic
  • a large red chilli
  • a small handful of olives
  • a teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • a teaspoon of dried basil
  • a generous grind of black pepper
  • a splash of white wine (not compulsory, I just happened to have some open)
  • half a tin of tomatoes (the other half was used in curry yesterday)
  • three tablespoons of creme fraiche
  • a few handfuls of wholewheat pasta
  • grated parmesan


Finely chop the onion, garlic and chilli and fry in a little olive oil along with the mustard seeds, basil and pepper. Chop the olives and add these to the pan along with a splash of wine.

When the onion has softened add the tomato, rinse out the tin with a little hot water from the kettle and add this too. Put the pasta on to cook. Allow the sauce to simmer slowly while the pasta is cooking, adding more water if it looks like it is drying out.

When the pasta is cooked drain it and stir it into the tomato sauce along with the creme fraiche. Serve with grated parmesan on top.

Seriously Simple Supper – fresh ravioli with lemon and herbs

ravioli with lemon and herbs

Before I get any further with this post you need to know that I did not make the pasta; making fresh pasta is fun but not when you have been driving for about eight hours and need a really quick and delicious supper! The ravioli I used was from Tesco and contained Scottish Crab and Chilli, which seemed rather fitting after a long drive south from the Highlands.

I used marjoram from my garden when I made this a couple of days ago, however you can substitute in fresh basil if that is easier for you to get hold of.

ravioli with lemon and herbs


  • Fresh ravioli (or tortelini); a fish filling goes particularly well with the lemon
  • Olive oil – the best that you have because it is an important contribution to the flavour
  • Zest of one lemon
  • a couple of tablespoons of fresh marjoram leaves
  • a few grinds of black pepper


Zest the lemon and strip the marjoram leaves from the stem – this is the only bit of preparation that you need to do!

Cook the pasta as per the instructions on the packet; this usually only takes a couple of minutes.

Drain the pasta and then stir in a good splash of olive oil, the lemon zest, marjoram and black pepper.


Absolutely perfect with a nice glass of wine after a very long day.

Pasta with Green Pesto, Mozzarella and Chicken

Cooking lesson number three with Emma!

Emma told me that she really likes mozzarella and courgette (zucchini for you Aussies), so for our third cooking lesson we cooked pasta with chicken, mozzarella and courgette. However, we decided on tasting it that it was a bit too bland for our liking and just a little bit too dry. I asked Emma what she thought we could have done differently and she came up with adding some lemon juice and some paprika; she tried this adapted recipe a couple of days later and apparently it was delicious.

The recipe given below is with Emma’s amendments. Enjoy.



These amounts feed one person – double it if you are cooking for a friend.

  • 1 cup of pasta
  • A tablespoon of olive oil
  • Diced Chicken
  • ½ Courgette
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika (you can add more if you like)
  • 1 tablespoon of Green pesto
  • ½ Mozzarella ball
  • Salt and pepper


Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan, add the chicken, paprika and a grind of pepper and fry it stirring frequently. Chop the courgette into rounds. When the chicken is sealed (cooked on the outside) add the courgette and lemon juice and continue to stir. Turn the heat down if the chicken starts to stick to the pan.

While the chicken is cooking boil the kettle for the pasta. Put the pasta in a saucepan with a grind of salt and a tiny splash of oil, add the boiling water and give it a little stir so that the pasta doesn’t stick together. Cook on a medium heat.

Next, slice the mozzarella ball into circles.

When the pasta is cooked drain it and then put it back in the saucepan along with the Pesto, give it a good stir.

Check that the chicken is cooked all the way through by taking the biggest piece and cutting it in half.

Put the pasta onto a plate, arrange the mozzarella on top, and then put the chicken and courgette on top of that – the heat from the pasta and the chicken will make the mozzarella nice and melty.


Pasta Carbonara – with Bacon & Crème fraîche

This is a simple (and delicious) take on pasta carbonara, which Emma and I made for her second cooking lesson. Emma said that she made it again later in the week and it was just as wonderful.

I’m afraid I didn’t take the best photographs ever for this post – partly because I had lost my phone and was using a strange camera, but mostly because I was too impatient to scoff the lot!



These quantities are for one person, if you are feeding someone else it is easy to double it (or triple it!).

  • One Cup of Pasta
  • One tablespoon of Olive oil
  • Two rashers of bacon
  • One clove of Garlic
  • ½ teaspoon of Dried Oregano
  • A small onion
  • Four Mushrooms (we didnt’t end up putting these in because Emma is not a fan, you could substitute in courgette instead)
  • Two tablespoons of Crème fraîche
  • A handful of grated cheese
  • Salt and pepper


Chop the onion and garlic and add to a frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil (we used some  basil olive oil – yummy), along with a couple of grinds of black pepper and the oregano. Turn the hob on to a medium heat.

Using scissors, chop up the bacon into small pieces and add to the frying pan. Give everything a good stir.

Chop the mushrooms and add these to the pan.

Next, boil the kettle for the pasta. Put the pasta in a saucepan with a grind of salt and a tiny splash of oil, add the boiling water and give it a little stir so that the pasta doesn’t stick together. Cook on a medium heat.

While the pasta is cooking, grate the cheese.

When the onion and garlic is beginning to look nice and browned then turn off the heat (you can leave the pan in place). When the pan is no longer sizzling add the Crème fraîche, a tablespoon or two of the hot water from the pasta and half of the cheese.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it and then add it to the frying pan. Put the heat back on low below the frying pan and give everything a nice stir until the cheese is melted.

Serve with the extra cheese on top and salt and pepper to taste.


Tagliatelle with wild garlic and smoked salmon


Believe it or not, this was a very cheap meal: although that is partly because my lovely parents left me the contents of their fridge before going away. Thanks also to my neighbour James for bringing me a huge bag of wild garlic from his dog walk!
The amounts below served one person; apologies if the quantities are a bit hap-hazard, I made it up as I went along and only decided to write it down afterwards because it was so yummy.

5 – 6 ‘balls’ of dried tagliatelle
A colander full of wild garlic leaves
A chunk of crumbly cheese,  grated
A small handful of salmon, chopped into pieces
A splash of good olive oil
Salt and pepper

Put the tagliatelle in a saucepan with a pinch of  salt and boiling water from the kettle. Start with the hob turned right up, and then when it comes to the boil turn it right down.
Wash the wild garlic, grate the cheese and chop the salmon.
When the pasta is al dente (i.e. ‘just right’) drain it and then add the wild garlic, cheese, oil, salmon and a grind of salt and pepper. Give it a good stir, and when the garlic leaves are wilted and the cheese melty serve.

Quick,  easy, and delicious! image

Teaching James to cook – Part One

I have taken it upon myself to teach my idiot neighbour (his own words!) to cook. James is a bit of a character, an extravert with paranoiac tendencies (again, his own words!). His usual weekly shop includes chips, pie, fish, bread, sandwich-spread, tinned fruit, ice-cream, Pavlova, coffee and, most importantly, Cava.

Meet James. He wants you to know that he has cut his hair since this picture was taken.

The first lesson was in making a simple pasta sauce with tinned tomatoes, onion and bacon.  We also added aubergine because I had some which needed using up.

The end result was (…in his own words) Pop-tastic! Not ‘alf!


  • 1 Onion
  • 1 clove of Garlic
  • 6 Rashers of bacon
  • about 6 pieces of pepper preserved in oil
  • 1 Aubergine (not compulsory, I just happened to have one in the cupboard)
  • 500g carton of tomato passata or a tin of tomotoes
  • 1 teaspoon mixed herbs
  • Dried pasta, a cup per person
  • a handful of grated cheese



Chop the onion and garlic finely. Using scissors, chop the bacon into chunks.

Fry the onion, garlic and bacon in a little of the oil from the preserved peppers.

When the onion is beginning to soften, add the pepper, aubergine and mixed herbs and fry for a little longer.

Add the tomato and simmer until the aubergine is tender.

Next, put the pasta into a saucepan and add boiling water. Bring to the boil on a high heat and then turn down to ‘simmer’. Be sure to keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t boil over.

When the pasta is al dente (meaning ‘just done’ as opposed to ‘mush’) serve with the sauce and a generous sprinkle of cheese on top; see HERE the little video of James trying to find out if the pasta is ‘just right’.

… what James learned today

  • what al dente means;
  • how to make a simple scrumptious meal; and
  • the contrast between feeding yourself ‘stupid & lazy food’ and easy home-cooked food is huge – it tastes better, goes further, makes you feel better and is cheaper.

…I have a lot to learn but I’m looking forward to the next lesson.