By Noel Christmas

Boil It in a Frying Pan

Making pasta has been the same for years: boil a lot of water, add plenty of kosher salt, then add the pasta, and cook until al dente.

That works. But it takes time (boil the water, then cook the pasta), plus a big stockpot, and another pan for the sauce.

Is there a better way? You bet there is, and I think this is it:

What You Need

  • A frying/saute pan
  • 1-2 quarts water
  • Pasta (this is about ½ pound; it works with more!)
  • Kosher Salt (1 tablespoon or so)

Getting Started

Add the pasta and the cold water to the frying pan and turn on the heat. Yes, you start with cold water. You'll need to stir the pasta around some while it's cooking, but still, it's pretty low-fuss.

Add the Salt

Adding Kosher Salt

Normally, you add kosher salt to the pasta when the water boils, but in this case, it's just fine at the beginning.

Cooking the Pasta

Boiling Water for Quick Pasta

As always, taste the pasta to see when it's done. But in this case, it won't take too much time at the boil, since the pasta started cooking long before the water hit 212 degrees.

The Secret Ingredient

Quick Pasta Reserved Water

The starch-filled water leftover from pasta is incredibly useful. It works as a thickener and binder for sauces, and all you have to do is not pour it down the drain! When I was a line cook, we treated this stuff like liquid gold. Reserve a few tablespoons for the sauce.

One-Pan Pasta

Starting the sauce

You've reserved and drained the pasta, now to the sauce. It's just the same pan on the same burner. So easy. I'm making a garlic butter, pesto, and (eventually) fresh tomato sauce. It takes about 3 minutes and is perfectly bound up by the reserved pasta water.

And Dinner's Done!

The final pasta dish

Need pasta inspiration? See Rita Spangler's Noodles collection.

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