I write about food. And dream about it too. Without saying it explicitly, I preach week in and out to make food from scratch. It’s better that way. But come 5:00 pm on a weeknight, I’m without a message to preach or an idea of what to make. Dinner’s hard. It’s even harder now that we have a tiny little person who needs to be in bed by the time we once started making it. Unlike the rest of our life, we kept dinner spontaneous because we could. Long-winded when we felt like it. It wasn’t a burden then.
This post is the first of a 4-part series on reclaiming your kitchen sponsored by Wolf. We’ve gone from making 98% of our meals in our homes to less than 50%, a move in the wrong direction. Through a beautiful video and helpful resources,Wolf is inspiring us to start small. Plan ahead. And cook one meal a week, maybe even two. This is my kind of revolution. Visit reclaimthekitchen.com for more inspiration.
Growing up, our next-door neighbors laughed at our dinner time. Our dining room window backed up to theirs. Every night around 8, light escaped through the cracked blinds and people swarmed the table. They were getting ready for bed. We were sitting down to a meal. Despite the crude jokes that bounced around the table, that time was sacred even at 8 pm, sweaty from soccer practice.
It used to be the norm to gather around the table to eat meals. But today it’s more often than not that our tables are tidy, pans clean, and dishes stacked. Dinner’s hard when you work until 6:30. When you didn’t plan meals for the week. When your fridge is empty. When your brain is spent. When you have a tiny person at your feet wanting food 10 minutes ago. When soccer practice goes until 8. But my mom quietly taught us night after night that sharing a meal together is worthwhile even when it feels like a burden. I think it’s a bit like working out. The results outweigh the process.
We’re working on building our first and last house right now (see the progress here). As we pick out materials for the kitchen, I keep asking Mike, our builder, how they’ll hold up. He responds with something like, “Well, do you want it to look perfect 10 years from now, or do you want it tell your story?” He tosses around the word patina a lot too—the process of a material, like wood or copper, aging and increasing in beauty and value. (I had to look it up after hearing it the first time.)
I like things tidy and uncomplicated. I like predictability and the comfort that follows. But I also want rich memories, well-nourished bellies, a joke-filled conversation (crude or not), and stains on my counter and etched markings on my table that tell about that one time. I write about food. I dream about it too. That doesn’t make the dishes go away or mean the fridge is always stocked or make the what’s for dinner question any easier. Dinner’s hard for thousands of different reasons. But I think my mom was right and Wolf is on to something—it’s worth the effort. We’re trying (and failing) to think ahead and meal plan. Until I get that down, this quick, one-pot pantry pasta dish has been saving our dinnertime lately. What’s dinner like for you?
When I eat pasta at a restaurant, the sauce and the noodle are one, but I’m never able to achieve that at home. The one-pot pasta recipes that have been floating around like mad lately are not only quick and easy, but the sauce and the noodle become one. It’s the miracle of all pasta recipes. You can make it a thousand different ways. We’ve been making this pantry pasta dish on repeat. It takes no planning and most of the ingredients, if not all, are in your pantry. This recipe is my gateway drug into making dinner doable again.
Here is my take on one pot pasta. Cook up a lot of pasta shapes, ear shaped or your fave. They keep well in the fridge for a few days, I put them in a ziplock bag.
I then make a sauce consisting of onions, garlic if liked and chorizo, add feta and arugula. I use already cooked sliced Spanish chorizo, which is different to the Mexican type, so it’s essentially just heating it up in pan to release the oils. Make sure the feta melts in with the rest of the items. Add arugula last, can also sub watercress, so it wilts, could also add other green vegetables, like spinach etc.
If you make a lot of sauce it can be used next day by heating up and adding the pasta.
Beautiful videa and love your little one at her kitchen! My little one wants to run the Mummy kitchen with me and brings a chair to stand next to me whilst I make dinner,.. maybe she’ll be a little cook!
Oh good grief. Now I need this every day for the rest of eternity.
LOOOOOVOVVEEE everything about this. We totally have those nights where I’m on top of my game…but most of them involve scrounging and making something out of nothing. Except that this pasta ISN’T nothing…it is most definitely SOMETHING!
Love this <3 it looks delicious
So sweet how your little one mimics you in her own kitchen. Am sure she’ll be a great cook one day 🙂
Thanks for the delicious one pot recipe idea!
Just wanted to drop by and say congrats for making BHG’s Top Ten Baking Blogs! I have been following you on Instagram for a while now and your creations are always so beautiful. This is such a lovely post and the video is just so inspiring! Wishing you all the best with your new home too 😉
Beautiful post! It’s so difficult to strike that balance between the idealism of dinner together every night and a toddler hanging on your knees at 5:30. I love that your family ate together so late after soccer practice – that’s something I think and worry about for my own family even though we’re a solid 10 years away from that issue!
This looks lovely, and I do love that minimal washing up! 😉
We do meal planning on a weekend, so that weekday dinners are a very relaxed affair, all cross-legged on the sofa.
If we ever get a big enough place, I’d like to return to having a dining table. My Mum was very firm on the importance of dining as a family, without distractions, and the more I don’t follow her advice, the more I realise that I should!
Looks so good! I also love that you can make a big batch and use for lunch leftovers for the next couple day(s)!
love love love the video!! and YES to all the wonderful ways to make one pot pasta, it really is a meal-time lifesaver
love the post! do you have any tricks to get whole wheat pasta from sticking together next day for leftovers? thanks!
Thank you! I reheat on the stove and add a bit of liquid (either water or stock) to the pan and cover. The steam helps to break apart those sticky noodles. Hope this helps!
Perfectly lovely post with a video to match! Love it.
Love the video!! Good song choice too.
Nice one Melissa, looks a bit fresher than my normal go-to pantry pasta which is usually some variant on puttanesca (tomato/olive/capers/anchovy/chilli plus whatever veg is at the back of the crisper!).
I like the sound of yours. Anything that’s on hand and makes a magic dish is my favorite these days. I want to try a variation with sun-dried tomatoes or peppers.
Oh yes, I very much like the idea of a one pot pasta!
What a lovely post, Melissa. This meal looks delicious! <3
Love this idea!
Anything from Oh My Veggies and The Faux Martha is game in my book.
brunch and bijoux
I love their version using fresh veggies. We’ve made it a couple times too.
I love the idea of reclaim the kitchen! Such a great mission. I cook dinner 6 nights out of the week but it used to be a lot less in my crazed workaholic days. To prevent waste I always go through the pantry, fridge, and freezer to put together a quick meal so I love the idea of this pasta!
I love one pot pasta! Your little girl..too cute!
I love having recipes for “pantry” meals! So good in a pinch.
Love the video. Love the message. And I’m sure I’ll love this pasta dish, especially since it won’t take me all night to make!!
I love one pot pastas. Of course one of my kids won’t eat stuff like that but it’s still been a revelation to discover those types of things to make in a hurry. He can have cereal.
Such a cute video!! And we have the same Calph pans. 🙂
as much as i love cooking and doing everything from scratch, it is hard esp with no meal planning. i love one pot quick easy meals such as this one.