FA Student Foodie: one-pot pasta to suit the flat, the family, and all the festivities

By Gabbie Wright |

So, it’s December — daunting for some, and a relief for others. However you’re feeling as we approach the end of an incredibly strange year, there seems to be a global understanding that Christmas can’t come quick enough to alleviate all those emotions still hanging around as we exit a second lockdown into a slightly less end-of-the-world but equally dismal second tier system. In light of testing, tracing and travel windows, it may be that your Christmas traditions are a bit all over the place this year. After having a ‘Virtual Friendsgiving’, I know my friends and I fully intend to make the most of our tier-one status here in Cornwall and support all our lovely local businesses before we move home for the holidays.

Equally as *unprecedented* as COVID-19 itself, is arguably anything other than the traditional Christmas dinner; whether three-bird, veggie, vegan, or takeaway, everyone has their go-to for December 25th and, in some cases, the 26th as well. I love being at home over the holidays with so much food in the house, especially after three months of uni stirfrys and mystery defrostable leftovers. However, one thing I do bring to the table (excuse the pun) is a cracking plate of pasta; with parmesan cheese, garlic bread, even a side salad to top it off, I really do rate a bolognese or a carbonara in the winter months and whilst you might be thinking “Gabbie, I have eaten nothing BUT pasta this term”, let me tell you, you’ve been eating the wrong pasta, my friend.

The ‘One-Pot Pasta’ is just as the name suggests, a pasta dish literally invented for the everyday student that is without a dishwasher and, like myself, detests the “soaking” method as much as the thought of clearing the draining board. Not only does it use a single pan, but it tastes like one imagines a Paul Hollywood handshake to feel. There are many different variations out there, but the premise remains the same: all of your ingredients essentially cook in with your desired pasta to create something as magical as Christmas morning itself. This particular version is suited to the festivities of the holiday season; you can easily top with leftover turkey, bacon, or throw in some additional roasted veggies, so feel free to whip it out before charades with the family or as a last-minute flat meal.


Typically makes one portion, so adjust accordingly.

  • 150g spaghetti, or desired pasta
  • A red onion
  • A handful of plum tomatoes
  • A handful of spinach
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tbsp red pesto
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh parsley to taste


Takes around 15-20 minutes total, so super easy to fit around the wrapping.

  1. First, finely chop the red onion and throw into your pan with a generous splash of extra virgin olive oil. Allow to sizzle on a medium heat for a couple of minutes and then turn down to med-low.
  2. Bring a kettle of water to the boil, and mince garlic cloves ready to add to the pan.
  3. Add in measured spaghetti or alternative pasta to the pan, with minced garlic and a generous splash of boiling water, turn the heat back up to initial medium heat.
  4. Chop parsley and spinach, but don’t add it just yet (remember to wash your spinach first to avoid any unwanted shingle or animals in your flatmate’s serving).
  5. Add a little more boiling water into your pan, keep pushing the pasta down into the liquid so that it just covers it — be careful not to add too much water at once as you don’t want to dilute the lovely flavours.
  6. Roughly chop your plum tomatoes, halves or quarter-sized is fine, so long as they’re big enough to hold the juice. Then add them into the pan and turn the heat up high for the remainder of cooking time.
  7. Spoon in your pesto and stir to ensure the pasta is fully coated and cooking evenly.
  8. If your pasta looks like it could be sticking, or if everything else looks like its just floating around, stir in another splash of oil or adjust the water level accordingly.
  9. Stir occasionally to ensure all of the ingredients are simmering together nicely.
  10. Finally, when the water starts to really boil off and your pasta is al dente, throw into your pan the spinach and parsley.
  11. Grate a handful of parmesan cheese and sprinkle in the top of the pan, slowly stirring through until you’re happy with the consistency of the cheesy, tomatoey sauce.
  12. Serve up in a large bowl with more parmesan, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.

Wishing you all a holiday season filled with family, friends, and tasty, festive-feeling food.