I know you’re busy, and exhausted, and want something hearty without having to stand for ages and ages in the kitchen and hence, these one-pot meals — they mean ease, speed, and less stuff to wash after. Can’t beat that! This recipe is joining in with the one-pot series that you’ll soon be seeing on this blog. And many of those recipes will feature pasta as the protagonist (apologies to Italian friends that will likely want to hurl a pot or two at me). I have adapted these recipes for the particular purpose of practicality.
While the recipe speaks for itself —i.e. pasta, tomatoes, basil, mince, sauce, spices, cheese… need I say more? — I need to say a word about the skillet I’m cooking it in. Usually I go for non-stick or something easy to use on the stove. This time round, I’m calling for a large skillet that can be used on both the stove AND in the oven. This is because this recipe requires both, for presentation purposes. First, you’ll be cooking everything on the stove. Second, you’ll be sprinkling this beauty with cheese and shoving it under the broiler to brown. It is absolutely essential that the handle of your skillet is metal or ceramic, to withstand the broiler heat. I recommend a cast-iron, cast-aluminum, or ceramic skillet that is wide and deep enough to contain all the ingredients, and withstand the climate it’ll be exposed to. Got me? Perfect. Let’s get cooking, shall we?
NB - I have a love for rigatoni, but feel free to use any past you wish.
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
¼ cup green olives, pitted and chopped
¾ cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried basil (fresh works too!)
350g minced beef
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon Chinese 5-spice
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups of water, divided (plus more, just incase)
1 packet rigatoni pasta
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
½ cup shredded mozzarella chees
Chopped parsley (optional for garnish – but also tastes great)
In a large, deep cast-aluminum, iron, or ceramic skillet (make sure it has a metal or ceramic handle), add butter, garlic, onion, pepper, olives, cherry tomatoes and basil on high heat and simmer until wilted, stirring constantly.
Add your minced beef, and with a wooden spoon, stir until it loses it’s pink color.
Add tomato paste, turmeric, cumin, paprika, Chinese 5-spice, sugar, chili powder, salt and pepper, and stir.
Gradually add water, and bring to boil.
Throw in the rigatoni (gently!), and stir until mixed with the other ingredients evenly. Taste your sauce at this point, and make sure the seasoning is adjusted. The sauce should be watery and also cover the rigatoni in the skillet at this stage (add a little more if this isn’t the case).
Throw in half the cheddar cheese, stir, and then cover your skillet, leaving the pasta to cook for about 8 minutes. Check every few minutes to make sure the bottom isn’t sticking.
As the pasta cooks, the sauce should begin to thicken. Stir, and leave to simmer uncovered for a few more minutes until the sauce shortens to your liking and thickly covers the rigatoni (personally, I like my sauce thick and opaque, so I turn down the heat and leave it a little longer).
Strew the remaining cheddar and mozzarella cheeses over the top of your rigatoni, and pop it in the oven under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese melts and starts to brown.
Sprinkle chopped parsley over the top, and serve hot at the table, dishing straight from the skillet – and enjoy!