We love this vegetarian one-pot penne pasta on weeknights. Veggies, herbs, and lemon make the penne burst with flavor. Ready in 20 minutes!
Today’s penne pasta recipe is brought to you by…our dishwasher! Here’s what happened:
Our dishwasher recently broke, which has made me realize just how many dishes we (mostly I) use in a day. For example, I start with a big glass of water first thing in the morning before I make a smoothie. Next comes iced cold brew coffee. When it’s time to make lunch, I’m usually too lazy to go upstairs to get my previously used water glass, so I’ll grab another. In case you aren’t keeping track, I’m up to 4 glasses by about noon. There’s also one by my bed, two in the bathroom, and by the end of the day there will be a larger collection at my desk. I know – first world problems.
All of this extra dishwashing led me to try the infamous one-pot penne pasta. It was apparently invented by a French chef and later made internet-famous by Martha. I never considered trying it before because it’s a little too trendy, and I’ve never found it to be a big deal to wash the pasta pot. But by now I was tired of washing dishes, and this recipe seemed incredibly easy. And it was (is).
It’s delicious too. Because the starches from the pasta stay with your pasta, this method creates a creamy sort of sauce that wouldn’t be there if you cooked and drained your pasta.
Penne Pasta Recipe Ingredients
I felt like Martha’s recipe lacked a bit of flavor, so for my version I’ve amped up the herbs & seasonings. Here’s what makes my penne pasta recipe a delicious, easy meal for busy weeknights:
- Leeks & garlic add a mild, sweet onion flavor.
- Cherry tomatoes, zucchini & red bell pepper fill it with color, and they make this penne pasta taste like summer.
- Basil & oregano give it a fresh Italian flavor.
- Lemon juice & zest brighten it up.
- Red pepper flakes add a little heat.
- And toasted pine nuts bring a necessary crunch.
In lieu of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, I made a “cheese-like” hempseed topping. This penne pasta is nicely flavorful on its own, so feel free to use the cheese or “cheese”, or skip both!
How to Make One Pot Penne Pasta
Assemble your ingredients, and you’re just minutes away from having a big pot of penne pasta on the table. Here’s how you make this yummy one-pot meal:
- Chop your veggies, and put them in a large pot with the penne, lemon juice, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and 2 1/4 cups water.
- Bring to a boil, cover, and cook for 8 minutes, stirring once around the 5-minute mark.
- When the pasta is tender, remove the pot from the heat, stir, and let it sit for a couple of minutes so the sauce can thicken.
- Top it with Parmesan, parsley, pine nuts, and/or my vegan hemp seed “cheese,” and enjoy!
I had a little trouble deciding on the serving size for this recipe. The final pot looked “family size,” but then we ate the whole thing, with Jack going back for multiple helpings. So I’m going to say this penne pasta recipe serves 2 hungry people, and maybe a few more if you have smaller eaters or if you serve this with a protein on the side.
Looking for more penne pasta recipes?
One Pot Vegetable Penne Pasta
- 6 ounces penne pasta
- 1½ cups sliced cherry tomatoes
- 1½ cups thinly sliced leeks
- 1 cup zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch thick half moons
- ½ cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
- 3 small garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus 1 teaspoon zest
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 sprig of basil
- 2¼ cups water
- chopped parsley
- toasted pine nuts
- grated parmesan cheese or Vegan Hemp Seed Topping, optional
- ½ cup hemp seeds
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
- pinch of sea salt
- In a large pot, combine the pasta, tomatoes, leeks, zucchini, bell pepper, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, oregano, salt, red pepper flakes and basil. Add the water and stir. Bring to a boil, cover, and boil for 8 minutes. Give it a stir around the 5 minute mark to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan and put the the cover back on. At 8 minutes, test the pasta for doneness. Remove the pot from the heat, stir, and let it sit for about 2 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
- Make the Vegan Hemp Seed Topping: In a food processor, combine the hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, sunflower seeds and salt and pulse to combine.
- Serve with the chopped parsley, toasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese or Vegan Hemp Seed Topping, if using.