Are you looking for an easy economical supper that’s ready in under half an hour, that the whole family will love? Then this one pan pasta with spicy tomato is for you. As a bonus, it’s made in only one pan so you save on washing up too!
Meat ‘n’ Eat
Many years ago, in South Africa, you could buy a box of Meat ‘n’ Eat, which comprised of a packet of spices, a packet of instant cheese sauce mix and a packet of pasta shapes. The idea was that you just added your own meat, and you had an almost instant one pan pasta supper.
As a single mum of three, holding down a full-time job, this was a godsend. Firstly, the children loved it. Secondly, it was cheap. And thirdly, it was on the table in less than half an hour. It came in various flavours too. One was curry, where you added chicken, another was chilli where you added ground pork, but our favourite was spicy tomato, which called for ground beef mince.
Did I mention that it was easy to make? Nothing could be simpler. Everything is cooked in one pan. The pasta is added to the same pan as the meat and stock, and the pasta cooks in the stock, absorbing the delicious flavours. So you don’t even have to drain it. And of course, using only one pan means there’s less washing up!
For some reason, this came into my mind the other day, and I thought I’d track down a box and make it for Graham. I searched high and low. I couldn’t find anything remotely similar on the shelves in the supermarket, and it didn’t come up in an Amazon search. It wasn’t even stocked by my local South African shop. Thinking about it, it’s not surprising I couldn’t find it. It must have been all of 35 years since I last bought it and it has probably been discontinued long ago.
So I popped over into the kitchen to see if I could recreate it from memory. And after a few delicious, but not quite right attempts, I think I’ve come up with a one pan pasta which is pretty close to the original. I hope you enjoy it.
How to make one pan pasta
You can find a complete list of all ingredients and measuements, along with detailed instructions, in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Ingredients you will need
- Ground or minced meat – I used a mixture of half pork and half beef, but you could use all beef if you prefer.
- Chopped onion, tomatoes and mushrooms – these should be chopped up quite finely, between 1/2 and 1 cm.
- Spices and seasonings – paprika (both smoked and normal), dried Italian herbs, chilli, tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt and sugar. I always add a small amount of sugar when cooking with tomatoes, as I find it cuts through the tartness. You can use garlic from a jar if you don’t have fresh.
- Sunflower seeds and pinenuts – the original recipe had some ingredient that gave a bit of a crunch and it may have been pinenuts. I’ve just added a few sunflower seeds for extra texture and I think it works quite well.
- Stock – I just mixed up a beef stock cube and a vegetable stock cube in 2 cups of boiling water.
- Pasta shells – You will need quite small shapes. I like the way the minced meat fills up the shells as it cooks, but you can use your own favourite shape.
- Grated cheese – no need to mess about making cheese sauce, just stir in a handful of your favourite grated cheese at the end.
How to make it
Prepare the vegetables
- Chop up the onion, the tomatoes and the mushrooms into small pieces. Because mince is finely ground, you don’t want large chunks of vegetables in this dish.
Brown the meat
- Start by frying of the onions and garlic in a little sunflower oil. Do this slowly so the garlic does not burn and become bitter. Then add the meat and stir to break it up. The meat should be brown and crumbly, with no pink bits showing.
Add the vegetables, nuts and spices
- Once the meat has browned, tip in the tomatoes and mushrooms, and stir in the spices, sunflower seeds and pinenuts. Give it a good stir to combine all the spices.
Add the stock and the pasta
- Make a stock with one beef cube and one vegetable cube and 2 cups of boiling water.
- Add to the meat and bring to the boil.
- Add the pasta and stir well.
- Turn the heat down to a simmer and leave for about 15 minutes until the water is mostly absorbed and the pasta is tender.
- If it starts to boil dry, add more water as needed. The amount of water that gets absorbed depends on the type of pasta you are using. Some types of pasta absorb more water than others.
Add the cheese
- Once the pasta is cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the cheese while the pasta is still hot. The cheese will melt and combine with the remaining stock.
- I personally don’t think this dish needs anything else, but you could serve it with a simple salad made with fresh tomatoes and lettuce, and if you are really hungry, add a slice of garlic bread on the side.
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Recipe – One Pan Pasta with spicy tomato flavour
One pan pasta – with spicy tomato flavour
- 250 g beef mince
- 250 g pork mince
- 1 large onion chopped into 1cm dice approximately 2 cups
- 200 g white mushrooms roughly chopped
- 4 medium tomatoes roughly chopped approximately 2 cups
- 2 Tablespoons Sunflower Oil
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs (or mixed herbs)
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 25 g sunflower seeds optional
- 25 g pine nut kernels optional
- 1 teaspoon salt or to your own taste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 stock cubes 1 x beef and 1 x vegetable
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 cups dried uncooked pasta shells
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- Saute the onions and garlic gently in the sunflower oil until they are just starting to brown
- Add the mince (beef and pork) and fry with the onions until the mince is crumbly
- Add the mushrooms and tomatoes and continue frying gently stirring all the time, for another 2 minutes.
- Add the spices and flavourings (worcestershire sauce, paprika, herbs, tomato paste, salt, sugar) and stir well.
- Dissolve the stock cubes in two cups of boiling water and add.
- Bring back to the boil and add the pasta shells.
- Turn down the heat to a strong simmer and allow to cook until the water is absorbed and the pasta shells are soft. Approximately 15 – 20 minutes. If it looks as though it is going to boil dry, add another 1/2 cup of water.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese until it melts.
- Serve with a green salad and a slice of garlic bread.
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