Why It Pays To Cook Pasta Directly In The Sauce Rather Than Water

Pasta has long dominated the world of quick weeknight dinners. Just drop your penne in boiling water, heat up some jarred sauce, and wait. Filling, cheap, and hard to screw up, it also just happens to be heartwarming and delicious, the rare meal that almost everybody is happy to see on their plate. Even if you opt to skip the premade sauce and go the fresh route there is an abundance of quick pastas that come together in minutes with just a handful of ingredients that are perfect for that haggard, post-work exhaustion.

The one downside to that on-the-fly arrabbiata pasta is that it can still make a bit of a mess, with spattering sauce and multiple pans going on at any given time. Weeknight dinners are often the realm of the one-pot meal, not just because they are quick to cook, but because they are quick to clean, since doing the dishes afterward can take just as much time as the cooking itself does, but with the nice part of the meal already behind you. Of course, pasta is still worth it, but what if we told you that, when it comes to cleanup, there is a way to have your pasta and eat it too?

Cook pasta directly in the sauce to save time and cleanup

You may already know you should be using your starchy pasta water to thicken up your sauce, but you can take that logic one step further and cook your pasta straight in the sauce, as recommended by Epicurious. No waiting for water to come to a boil, no need for a separate pot or strainer, whatever sauce you were planning on cooking anyway does all that work for you and yet you are still left with perfect pasta in a hearty, smooth sauce. As an added bonus America's Test Kitchen says that cooking your pasta in the sauce instead of just tossing it will add more flavor directly to the pasta.

There are just a few precautions you'll want to take before you go throwing your pasta in a pot of Prego. Lifehacker warns that most jarred sauces are too thick to cook the pasta directly in, the lack of water will leave you with undercooked pasta and overly pasty sauce. It's best to follow Martha Stewart's lead and use a recipe specifically designed to be one-pot, but you can also make your jarred sauce a worthy medium for pasta cooking by thinning it out with some stock (via All Recipes). Combine this with all our other pasta cooking hacks and you won't just be making the best pasta you've ever made, you'll be making the easiest too.