A quick and easy one pot pasta packed with nutritious greens and a thick, luxurious tomato & mascarpone sauce. One of our most popular recipes here at Happy Veggie Kitchen, it makes a perfect midweek dinner and is ideal for Meatless Monday.
UPDATE : This post was updated in February 2023 with brand new photos including step by step instructional photos, and some updates to the introductory text. The recipe itself has not changed.
This one pot pasta is a winner! If you’ve never tried it before, cooking your pasta directly in its sauce can be quite the perfect situation. Less effort, better texture. The finishing touch that makes some simple pasta recipes just fall into place.
There was a time when I was skeptical about this idea. I mean, it’s not exactly hard to make your pasta and sauce separately. But when I kept hearing how cooking the pasta in the sauce results in more starch hanging around, creating a thicker, creamier and silkier sauce, well… that did sound pretty good.
And yes, it’s ALL TRUE.
Cooking pasta this way is definitely easier. No draining, only one pot to stir and wash. You do need to keep an eye on it, but when it’s all contained into one pot it just feels so simple.
This is a budget friendly alternative to meal deals
This recipe was created to replace an old convenient friend, the freshly made tomato and mascarpone sauce that you can get in the supermarket. The sauce features in just about every UK supermarket’s “fresh pasta + sauce” meal deals.
Those deals can be decent value but this recipe beats them hands down. You get a huge pot of pasta with lots more portions for a similar price, plus you’ll have leftover mascarpone for another meal (I have some ideas for you coming up.)
Also… ever notice that when you buy those meal deals, there is always enough sauce for the pasta, but not enough leftover to mop up with garlic bread? So I’ve tipped that balance for you here. This is incredibly saucy. So the garlic bread is not optional.
For those who haven’t routinely fallen for the British supermarket meal deals, and have never experienced the sheer joy of tomato and mascarpone sauce, please allow me to win you over. It is the. best. sauce. Mascarpone is the perfect accompaniment to tomato sauce. It adds a rich, sweet and creamy texture that is so much better than normal cream.
(Sorry, normal cream.)
Ingredient & Shopping Notes
- Mascarpone: The supermarket’s own brand will do nicely here.
- Fusilli: Or any other short pasta shape should work just fine.
- Canned tomatoes: Two cans. My recommendation is to use one can of normal chopped tomatoes + one can of cherry tomatoes. It is fine to just use the normal tomatoes if needs be though.
- Tomato paste (tomato puree): Definitely pushes the tomato vibes up, and helps make the sauce richer.
- Balsamic vinegar: A great flavor enhancer.
- Onions, garlic and dried herbs: Because of course. I use a red onion but any onion, or some shallots, will do nicely.
- Fresh basil: Or swap in parsley if you need to.
- Spinach and/or rocket (arugula): It’s a pretty decadent sauce so, for a midweek meal, I like to add some more nutrients with a few handfuls of leaves. This is optional of course.
- Butter: This is optional but it’s nice to add a little salted butter for extra flavor at the end.
- I’ve heard from a lot of readers who have made this pasta with additional veggies and loved the results. If this is what you wish to do, just sautee your veggies at the start alongside your onions and garlic, then proceed with the recipe as written. Keep an eye on liquid levels if you do this. You may need a little more.
Pro Tips for Making One Pot Pasta
- You want a something in the region of 5 litre / 5 quart sizes pot or saucepan for this recipe.
- The number one thing to remember here is that you need to regularly keep an eye on the liquid levels while the pasta is cooking. Stir regularly, and check that it’s not drying out before the pasta is al dente. Add more water as needed.
- Your cook time will vary a little depending on your pasta. Thicker pastas with longer cook times will drink up more water than the more inexpensive, thinner pastas.
- If your pasta is cooked through but your sauce still seems a little too runny, don’t worry! Let it sit for a couple of minutes. You’ll be surprised how quickly it thickens up off the heat.
- On that note however, one pot pastas tend to be best eaten straight away. Don’t let it sit around too long. At some point, all the starch that gives you a silky, creamy feel will start to turn more gloopy (for lack of a better word).
- Leftovers of this recipe are still great, but you will want to add some water when reheating to restore the sauciness.
What to do with your leftover mascarpone
These recipes will help you use up that tub of mascarpone you’re left with!
Love one pot pastas?
Since this recipe was such a success, I ended up making several more pasta recipes in this style!
One Pot Pasta with Tomato & Mascarpone Sauce
- 500 g (18 oz) dried fusilli
- 1 Tbsp Olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, chopped (you can also use 1/2 of a large one or a couple of shallots)
- 5 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 Tbsp dried Italian herbs
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes, 400g / 14oz cans -I like to use one can of cherry tomatoes + one can of regular chopped tomatoes
- 140 g (5 oz) tomato paste/puree , you may want more or less depending on how watery your canned tomatoes are
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 950 ml (4 cups) boiling water , you may need more
- A few handfuls of fresh basil
- 250 g (9 oz) fresh spinach , try adding some rocket/arugula too!
- 30 g (2 tbsp) butter , you can use up to double this amount for extra richness if you like
- 3 heaping spoonfuls of mascarpone
- In a large pot, heat some olive oil and gently saute your onions until soft.
- Add the garlic and herbs, and saute on a very low heat for a further 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and balsamic vinegar. Cook for 5 minutes, until bubbling.
- Now add the fusilli along with the boiling water. The sauce will be very watery and runny but don’t worry- the pasta will absorb all the excess water as it cooks.
- Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring often, until the pasta has cooked and the sauce has thickened back up. If it goes too dry, add some more water. It’s hard to say how much you’ll need because some pasta brands are thicker than others.
- Now add the spinach, basil and butter, and stir over a low heat until it’s cooked down.
- Finally, stir in the mascarpone until melted. You should have a deliciously thick, creamy sauce.
Inspiration: The first one-pot pasta I tried was Kitchen Nostalgia’s recipe for one pot spaghetti and I borrowed their proportions when developing this recipe.
I just saw this on Pinterest and had to stop by. . oh my gawd, this pasta is gorgeous!!! I love one pot pastas so I am definitely trying this!!!
Yay! Thanks so much (and for sharing on FB!). I hope you love it as much as we do!
Oooooh, this looks lush! I’ve never used mascarpone in pasta sauce before but now I’m wondering why not?! Have pinned and will be making this asap!
Thank you so much! And can I just say how much I enjoy your nutrition posts on Oh My Veggies! I really hope you keep going with those 🙂
Making this tonight! Was thinking about adding mushrooms, think that would taste good? If so, any recommendations on when I should add them in? Thanks
Hi! I think mushrooms would be great in this! I’d add them at the same time as the garlic so that they saute a little bit before the liquid is added- it will give the best flavor that way. Let me know how it turns out! 🙂
I’ve made this twice already, delicious both times! There are only two of us, so this feeds us for the better part of week 🙂 Thank you!
YAY! That’s awesome, so glad you’re enjoying it!
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this looks great! i’ve found so many great recipes from your site! thanks for sharing!
Yay! A kindred spirit! Thank you for your lovely comments 🙂
Love this recipe I added carrots celery courgette and mushrooms just to get some veggies into the kids so tasty 😋 thank you.
I also tried it warmed up but It wasn’t as nice do you have any advice on how to warm up again?
Yeah one pot pasta recipes which cook in starch are never as good reheated because the starch thickens so much and goes a little gloopy, for lack of a better word. You’d want to add a good amount of water or even milk when reheating to think it out again. So pleased to hear your family is enjoying it and that you’re managing to sneak extra veggies in too! 🙂
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Made this tonight. Ingredients are not costly and it tastes delicious. Makes loads too, do you know if this can be frozen? Thanks so much, a well recommended recipe X
Oh that’s great to hear, so happy you liked it! Yes it can be frozen! 🙂
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I’m making this tonight! This is probably a stupid question, but is there really 2 red onions in this? In the US red onion are large and almost never in pasta, we have shallots usually. Is there a different name for this onion? Sorry stupid question but it’s just a lot of onion!!!
So sorry for the delayed reply – I hope this turned out well for you! You’re right, the red onions in the US are huuuuge! I get bags of much smaller ones in the UK. I will update to clarify! Shallots would work great too.
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This was amazing. So easy. Even my picky eater loved it
Hi there. Is there a big need for salt at all? I want to make this for my family including whizzing some up for my 8month old twins but they cant have salt at their age..
You can totally skip the salt if you like. It just adds a little flavor – maybe add extra dried herbs or basil if you feel like it lacks flavor (if they are OK for your little one – I have no idea but I will soon since we will start introducing solids to our little girl in a couple months!). Hope you all enjoy it!
Made this tonight — DELICIOUS! Thanks so much for the recipe. If anyone is interested, I served with grated cheese, and it went together really, really nicely. Also, if people are comfortable with a non-vegetation option, I imagine that bacon would cut through the tomato flavor and be quite nice. 🙂
Wonderfully easy and delicious! I was skeptical of the whole ‘one pot pasta’ idea, but this recipe has converted me. We loved it!
Love this recipe which I intend to make as my new year resolution is to quit eating meat. My only question is can this be frozen and stored ok and what is it like when thawed
Hi Graeme, that’s lovely to hear, I hope you enjoy the recipe! Sorry for the delayed response. Yes freezing it is fine, the pasta tends to go a bit more chewy but that is always the case with reheated pasta and not just when it’s frozen.
I was just about to ask the same question!!! I’ve made SO much of it! But it is delicious and I feel like I’ve stepped into Italy! Thank you 😍😍😍🥘🍲
Would I be able to bake this in the oven? I don’t think I have a pot big enough!!
I don’t see why not! I wouldn’t be able to advise on cooking times but just keep an eye on it? Maybe reduce the liquid to start with and just add more as needed because I am not sure as much liquid would escape in the oven as it does on the stovetop. Let me know how it goes if you do try it!
Hi there, may I ask how many servings are in this pasta?
Hi! If you’re having a bowl of this for dinner without a side dish, I’d say 4 adult portions. It could be 6 portions if you are having salad and garlic bread too.
I would love to add some zucchini to this…can you advise me on how much to add and when to add it? Thanks a ton, can’t wait to make!
Hmmm, I think I would sautee the zucchini right at the start, alongside the onions! One zucchini would probably be about right but if you really love zucchini I am sure you could get away with more.
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Thanks very much for this recipe! It was delicious and so easy and convenient doing it all in one pan – you have definitely converted me to this method. I had some mascarpone to use up and was looking for a new idea for a pasta sauce and this was perfect. Can’t wait to make it again.
So glad you enjoyed it Katy! Thank you very much for the lovely feedback 🙂
Quick and delicious! I was wary of the one pot so made sauce separately. We both loved it and I can’t wait to make it for guests.
Delicious! I didnt add the basil because it wasnt doing it for me, but definitely restaurant quality!
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Oops, I realized after I made this that I forgot to add the butter!! It was delicious anyway and I can’t wait to make it again WITH the butter!
Yeah the butter is totally optional but when is butter ever not good?!?! So happy you enjoyed this! Thanks so much for the feedback! 🙂
Hi! This looks delicious. I am thinking of serving it with gnocchi, so I would like to cook the gnocchi separately to the sauce. How much water would u then recommend I put in the sauce if I’m not adding the pasta in?
You wouldn’t need any water if you’re not cooking the pasta in the sauce – but you may not need as much tomato puree / paste either so use less and build it up if you think it needs to be thicker.
Hi, this recipe looks amazing. Going to make it tonight. Have one question: can I use fresh tomatoes?
I’ve never tried this but yes it should be fine. If you just google “how to substitute canned tomatoes with fresh” you will find some ideas for how much you’ll need. I might suggest cooking the sauce separately in the instance though. I just couldn’t say how much liquid you’ll need if you’re using fresh tomatoes which have a different texture and liquid content. Good luck!
Could you cook this in a slow cooker? I’m very curious to try it but don’t want to waste the ingredients.
Nina, sorry for the delay! You certainly could cook it in a slow cooker. But my recommendation would be to find a different recipe for slow cooker pasta with tomato sauce and just add mascarpone and spinach to that. All of my quantities were decided with this cooking method in mind and it’s a slow cooker would need totally different liquid quantities.
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Just made this and it was SO good! Thank you for sharing!!
Yay! Thank you for the feedback 🙂
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Hello! I’ve made this dish quite a few time as already but I was curious, do you think it would work to add some broccoli? If so, when should I add them?
Thank you :))
Definitely! I’d probably suggest that you pre cook the broccoli, then add it with the spinach. Still easy enough if you use a microwave steam bag?
Made this tonight after stumbling across the recipe and oh my gosh it is so good! The instructions are clear and work perfectly, the end result is great (even if my picky 2 year old asked me to take the green bits out). Definitely going to add this to our regular repertoire. Unfortunately I committed the unforgivable sin of forgetting to serve with garlic bread but I will remedy this next time I promise! Thank you and I will definitely be signing up to your mailing list in the hope of other new dishes (lockdown has seriously challenged my limited culinary repertoire).
Thank you so much for your kind words – made my day! Hope you enjoy my future recipes too 🙂
I made this tonight for dinner and it was so delicious! My roommates loved it as well. I think you could definitely swap the mascarpone for a thick cashew cream (and the butter for vegan butter) for a great vegan/dairy-free version!
So happy to hear this! Thanks for the feedback 🙂
Absolutely delicious! I make this regularly and it is always a crowd pleaser!
Love this recipe, thank you so much! Made it last week and remade it this week to check I didn’t just fluke it! We’ve used tagliatelle instead and it works well too.
Oh that is great to hear! Thank you so much for coming back to let me know how it turned out 🙂
I used this recipe tonight and ohhh my days! This recipe was absolutely delicious, no need for me to be buying the shop bought stuff again! I will definitely be booking marking. Thank You very much
This is one of my favorite recipes! Do you think it could be frozen?
So happy to hear this 🙂 Yes it can be frozen no problem. Leftover pasta is never quite the same but whether it’s from the fridge or freezer I don’t notice much difference.
I’m making this for a cooking competition in class, it’s so delicious!!!
Tastes delicious however some of the instructions are missing – no mention of when to add mascarpone spinach or butter! So I made it up……
Those steps are definitely in there but I am guessing the instructions were broken up by an ad and you may not have seen them, I am sorry about that!