Colorful One Pot Pasta

one pot pasta recipe
Ananda Headshot Ananda Kaplan

Looking for the perfect weeknight dinner recipe? Our quick, delicious and nutritious one-pot pasta recipe is the answer. Throw all your ingredients into one pot and about 20 fuss-free minutes later you have a tasty meal with tons of color, flavor and texture. An added bonus–cleanup is a breeze!

This is a great way to pack in those veggies and boost up those anticancer phytonutrients. This dish is also extremely adaptable to meet all dietary needs. You can use either whole grain pasta or gluten-free noodles, plant based milk or dairy milk, along with any combination of seasonal produce you have on hand. The simplicity of the dish lies in simmering the pasta with the veggies, herbs and liquid, which will become a sauce that perfectly coats every ingredient. The pasta also releases a little starch as it cooks, which helps to make the sauce rich, thick, and creamy. This simple, healthy, all-in-one meal will leave you satisfied while minimizing cleanup and maximizing taste.


Serves 4

  • 10 oz pasta, gluten free* or whole wheat
  • 2 medium zucchinis, sliced (1 bunch of asparagus cut in 2 inch pieces works well also)
  • ½ onion (red, yellow or white), thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced or diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced (creminis work really well)
  • ¼ cup sundried tomatoes, in a glass jar is preferable
  • 1-2 tbsp capers
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp dried Italian herbs or basil or oregano
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups milk (if using plant based oat works really well)
  • 2 packed cups fresh spinach or 1 cup frozen spinach that has been thawed and sqeezed

Garnish: fresh basil and parmesan cheese

*For gluten free pasta, brown rice flour pasta works the best


  1. Add the uncooked pasta, zucchini, onion, tomato, bell pepper, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, and capers to a large pot or pan with deep sides.
  2. Sprinkle ingredients in pot with garlic, salt, pepper, herbs, and red pepper flakes.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the pasta.
  4. Pour in the water and milk and mix well.
  5. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to medium-low and cook for 10-15 minutes (cooking times may vary depending on type of pasta so make sure to check the package cook times), until pasta is al-dente and liquid has reduced to a sauce. Stir the mixture every 2 minutes to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Once pasta is cooked, turn off heat and fold in spinach until it is wilted. Taste and adjust seasoning, top with garnishes and enjoy.

*This dish is best consumed fresh but leftovers will keep well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Nutrient Highlights

Tomatoes: A great source of lycopene that helps reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease and protects skin integrity. Cooking tomatoes in a healthy fat (such as olive or avocado oil) increases the amount of available lycopene that the body will absorb.

Zucchini: Nutrient-dense vegetable packed full of fiber and water that aids in digestive health. The insoluble fiber helps us stay regular and the soluble fiber is a “prebiotic” food for the good bacteria to promote a healthy gut. This vegetable’s high amount of zeaxanthin (a powerful antioxidant) also plays a role in preventing oxidative stress to reduce the risk of developing cancer.

Olive Oil: Heart-healthy fat that has the ability to increase the good cholesterol and reduce triglyceride levels in the body. Packed full of antioxidants to support eye health and anti-inflammatory properties shown to help reduce symptoms of arthritis.

Garlic and Onions: Considered a prebiotic, meaning it feeds the “good” bacteria in our gut and promotes a healthy digestive system. Research supports that compounds in onions, such as allicin, have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and cardioprotective properties.

SpinachGreens such as kale, spinach, collards, mustard greens, arugula, and chard have been shown to protect bones from osteoporosis, reduce inflammation, support a healthy gut, strengthen the immune system, protect cognition and supply a high amount of antioxidants.  They are considered to be among some of the best cancer-preventing foods.

Mushrooms: Make sure to cook your mushrooms to increase digestibility, degrade a possible toxic compound found in raw mushrooms and release nutrients that are stored in their thick cellular walls. Mushrooms are a very good source of dietary fiber (beta glucan), and one of the only foods that can store vitamin D when exposed to the sun.  They contain anti-inflammatory properties and are rich in minerals such as selenium (an antioxidant). Their high potassium content can balance out sodium in the body.

Italian herbs: Contain a range of protective vitamins such as Vitamins A, C, and K, and packed full of antioxidants that help reduce oxidative stress in the body. Such antioxidants are lutein, beta carotene, and zeaxanthin which are known to reduce the risk of cancer, prevent age-related macular degeneration, detoxify the body, improve digestion, reduce stress and support liver health.

Bell Peppers: All colors of bell peppers are from the same plant. A bell pepper starts out green and as it ripens will become yellow, orange or red depending on its variety. As the bell pepper ripens there is also an increase in the nutrient concentration, with orange and red having the highest. Bell peppers have high amounts of antioxidants called carotenoids that help protect cells from oxidative damage.

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