A Tasty, One-Pot Italian Meal, Pronto


Sometimes you are off schedule and need to get a meal on pronto. This is my version of a one-pot meal for such a task.

Have someone get the best take-out pizza, a margarita. Medium size. It can be purchased a day or two before and kept in the fridge in tin foil. And if, like Bar del Corso, there are meatballs, buy them as well, with a little sauce. (Ohsun, the wonderful Korean cafe on South Main and First Avenue, has great meatballs.) Get some basil, good parmesan and one of these BUF fresh mozzarella 7oz containers that are about.

Heat a cast iron fry pan on med low for 20 minutes. Add some cornmeal and let it get almost brown (you could use olive oil, but cornmeal is not as wet and keeps the crust clean). Heat another pan with water for pasta (does not count as a pot). Add a quarter of the pizza to the fry pan, cover and let it heat for five minutes, and then add a little of the fresh buffalo mozzarella.

Cover again until the new mozzarella starts to melt, add some chopped basil and in a minute or so, it is done. The crust should be slightly hard but not soggy. Cut the pizza into triangles and grate some parmesan and put some olive oil and that is your start to dinner. Cook the second piece the same. Drink white wine.

Do not clean the pizza fry pan. Add some olive oil, some chopped garlic, keep on medium low and stir. Then add a cup of peeled tomatoes or fresh chopped ones, cook for five minutes, and add the cooked meatballs and their sauce. And some chopped basil. 

Add salt to the boiling water and cook 1/2 pound of Italian spaghetti. When it is done, add it wet to the sauce and the meatballs. Stir and stir, then add some parmesan, cracked pepper, salt, olive oil, and basil and the rest of your dinner is ready. Lucky you all. Late and still ready and happy. One pot/pan sort of.

If you did not find meatballs or are vegetarian, simply add 8 ounces or so of true San Marzano peeled tomatoes (pomodor pelati), squished first by hand in a small bowl, to your sauce. There are numerous untrue brands, find the best from Italy, there is little place to hide in this sauce. Let it gently bubble for 15 minutes, put the pasta on, they will both be done in 10 minutes. 

You can, at the end, add some of the fine bounty of a spring/summer — parsley, cilantro, basil, chopped together. Or the new arugula. Or a few blossoms from thyme, sage, rosemary herbs, just chopped. Finish with a very good olive oil. And there you have it.

Peter Miller
Peter Miller
Peter Miller runs the Peter Miller Design Bookshop, in Pioneer Square, in the alley between First Avenue and Alaska Way. He is there, every day. He has written three books, Lunch at the Shop, Five Ways to Cook, and How to Wash the Dishes. A fourth book, Shopkeeping, A Manual, will be published in Spring 2024, by Princeton Architectural Press.


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