Updated: Sep 5, 2020
Alrighty friends, Cara here coming to you with one of my all-time favourite weeknight one-pot meals. Why is this a go to in my recipe collection?
1) One pot
2) Quick to make
3) Freezes well
4) Mexican-type flavour
2) Did I mention you only dirty ONE POT?? Heck. Yes.
I make this so often because it's so great leftover in lunches! I'm just not a salad person for lunch. I mean, don't get me wrong, I really wish I was, but being hungry again by 3pm just doesn't work for me. So instead here we have two kinds of protein plus pasta! Nowww you're speaking my language.
First, a caveat: this is my first-ever attempt at this food blogging business. I hope you find my notes and pictures helpful, but the biggest thing to remember when you're making it is this: if I can make it, anyone can!
Alright enough already, let's get on with making this thing. First thing you need is some Jackknife Creek ground beef. I use one pound. Since I add in a second source of protein later, I feel like one pound works well. Take out a Dutch oven or any good size pot and start browning the beef.
I just use ol' regular white onion in this recipe. No particular reason other than I buy them in bulk and I can't be bothered with buying something special like red onion. But you can mix it up with whatever you want. I also use a whole onion for a similar reason - if I leave a half onion in my fridge it's only a matter of time before it gets buried in the back of the fridge and tries to walk away on its own. So I just chuck the whole thing in there. Plus onion adds great flavour! So slice up that onion.
Since I use white onion I add it when the beef is about half way browned to soften it up a bit so that it's not too torquey at the end. But if you're using something more subtle like red onion, you can add it in once the beef is completely browned with the next ingredients. Once the beef is browned and the onion is a bit softened, add in the can of diced tomatoes, a can of corn, a 1/4 cup (ish) of water, and give it a stir.
Then, add in all of your seasonings. What's listed in the recipe is what I start with, but you can always adjust at the end once the pasta is cooked. I usually end up adding more garlic, because garlic solves all problems right? I just used powdered garlic this time because it's easy and I forgot to grab good garden garlic from Mom before I left (I know, shame, shame). So use whatever works for you.
Next, add the sliced bell pepper and stir. Then, add the pasta and stir. This is the only semi-tricky thing about one-pot pastas and I don't really have a great answer for you on: the pasta-liquid ratio. Like, you don't want to have too much liquid because you're making pasta not soup, but you need enough liquid for the pasta to actually cook. So how much is that? Well, I...uh...just kinda chuck some in until the pot is pretty full...? I think it was like half of a 750g bag?
This is how full my pot looked:
I dunno. This might be the thing that you have to experiment with and work on your ratios yourself. I say better to go on the lower end for the liquid, you can always add more during the cooking process. But at the end of the day your flavours are all still gonna be there, so don't stress too much. I've never used whole wheat pasta and I don't cook with it much, but I'm sure you could, just longer cook time and more liquid probably. Also, you don't have to use rotini, but I like it because all the peppers and onions and beans get caught in the coils and make for a super yummy mouthful.
Okay now you're ready to witness the magic of the one-pot meal! Get the mixture to a "rolling boil" - there's not all that much liquid so this term doesn't really work, but once it starting making popping sounds I figured it was good to go. Then, cover and cook for 12-15 minutes. I like to cook for 12 (or sometimes less) so that the pasta is still a bit chewy. Reason being is I freeze 80% of my leftovers, and I find that the pasta just holds up a bit better when I reheat it for lunch (especially when I forget to take it out the night before and let it thaw). Stir it a couple times during the cook time. If there's a bit of liquid in the bottom of the pot at the end that's okay, it'll soak up some of the juice as it rests.
Remove from heat and stir in the beans and cheese. I think this looks like 3/4 of a cup of cheese maybe? Whatever, measure the cheese like you measure garlic: with your heart.
Once the cheese is melted, do a final taste test and adjust any seasonings to your preference. And voila! You have a hearty meal on the table and although this recipe is a superstar, the real winner of it is only having one pot to clean!
Did you notice the old Dutch oven? I'm sure a few of you have one in your kitchens too! And the Corelle plates too:
And there you have it. A quick, hearty meal that's bursting with flavour! And here's a pro tip for any of my farmer friends out there: this makes an awesome field meal! Nothing easier to pack up than one pot am I right? Let me know how it turns out!