Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Pasta with Italian Sausage

By Stacie Morgan, November 12, 2015, Recipes

Welcome to Cooking with Less Kilowatts! There is nothing better than sitting down in the evening to enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal. But did you know that changing what you do in the kitchen can make an impact on your monthly electricity bill? Each week, I will help you find ways to cook using less energy while still getting a satisfying, flavorful meal. Trust me – I won’t just tell you to do everything in the microwave. I’ll help you cut down on your energy consumption.

Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Pasta with Italian Sausage

Who said making tasty pasta had to be a laborious process?

Warm up your dinner tonight with this week’s low-energy-use one-pot pasta dish – complete with Italian sausage! Think of this recipe as a fancier, tastier, and customized version of those easy box or bag meals you purchase at the grocery store.

I love creating energy-efficient versions of those warm, hearty recipes we all enjoy in fall and winter. This dish is no different, as it’s inspired by one of my family’s favorite lasagna bakes. For example, instead of using ground beef, I add beef stock to the pot, as this adds the necessary flavor and the extra liquid needed to cook the noodles in the same pot.

My favorite pasta to use in this one-pot recipe is short fusilli bucati – pasta shaped like a spindle/corkscrew with a hole in the middle. As long as your recipe has a short cooking time, uses enough liquid (stock and water) for the noodles to absorb, and keeps stirring to a minimum, you should be able to cook the noodles in the sauce! If you use a different type of pasta, leave out the 1 cup of water in the ingredients list and add extra water as needed.  This is because some pasta shapes absorb less liquid than others.

For this to truly be a low-energy one-pot recipe, you should use a jar of marinara sauce instead of making the sauce from scratch. If you try out a new brand or flavor of sauce, I recommend you taste it before you add it to the meal – some need extra sea salt, crushed red pepper, or your favorite Italian seasoning mix added for a flavor boost.

In terms of cheeses, look for a bag of pre-shredded cheese called “Pizza Blend” because this one will have the necessary mozzarella, provolone, and Parmesan together already. This saves you money because you won’t have to buy all three individually. If you can’t find this three-cheese blend, just opt for shredded mozzarella and sprinkle some parmesan cheese on the served pasta.

Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Pasta with Italian Sausage

You made this whole pan of food just for me? Thanks!

There are serious energy use savings and time savings here! This pasta dish tastes almost identical to baked lasagna, uses almost all of the same ingredients, and it takes less than 1/6 the amount of time. The recipe takes less than 30 minutes to complete on the stove and only 2 to 3 minutes under the broiler, instead of at least 3 hours from start to finish on both the stove and in the oven for lasagna.

I can almost guarantee this one-pot recipe will become a regular meal on your dinner rotation.

One-Pot Pasta with Italian Sausage


Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Pasta with Italian Sausage

Classic ingredients for any great meal: garlic, onion, olive oil, and a good protein.

  • 1 lb. Mild Italian sausage (ground, not in links)
  • ½ tbsp. Olive oil
  • ½ tbsp. Pressed garlic
  • ¼ c. Yellow onion, diced
  • 1 lb. Fusilli corti bucati pasta
  • 1  Marinara sauce jar (Approx. 2 ½ cups size jar)
  • 1 c. Beef stock
  • 1 c. Water
  • 1 c. Whole milk ricotta cheese
  • ¼ tsp. Sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. Black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. Fresh lemon juice
  • 1 c. Shredded cheese (preferably a blend of mozzarella, provolone, and Parmesan)


Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Pasta with Italian Sausage

Browning your meat is more art than science, but just make sure all the pink is gone before you move to the next step.

1) Take a large 3- to 4-quart sized non-stick and oven-safe sauté pan and heat it over medium heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, and onion to the hot pan and let it sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.

2) Add the ground Italian sausage to the pan on top of the mixture and let it cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until the sausage is browned and no more pink is visible. Drain off a couple tablespoons of the rendered fat from the pan.

Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Pasta with Italian Sausage

You really can prepare pasta and your meal all in one pot if you pay attention to the details.

3) Add the fusilli pasta to the pan and mix it in with the sausage mixture. Once all the pasta is coated in the sausage pieces and olive oil/garlic/onions, pour the marinara sauce, beef stock, and water into the pan. Mix everything together and let it cook on medium heat for at least 10 minutes. Stir only as needed (no more than 2 to 3 times).

Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Pasta with Italian Sausage

Ricotta cheese – a requirement for any Italian-inspired dish.

4) While the pasta is cooking along with the sausage and sauce, prepare the ricotta cheese mixture. Mix the ricotta cheese, sea salt, black pepper, chopped parsley, and lemon juice together in a small bowl.

Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Pasta with Italian Sausage

I could eat this right now, but I’d be depriving myself of cheese!

5) Stir the pasta/sauce/sausage mixture to check how “done” it might be. Proper pasta should be “al dente” – which means it should be “be soft but still slightly firm at the core of the noodle.” I recommend tasting the pasta rather than the old myth of throwing it against the wall to see if it sticks. But since pasta doneness is a personal preference, when your pasta is ready, turn the heat level to low or off and turn on the oven’s broiler to high.

Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Pasta with Italian Sausage

See? I told you we’d put that Ricotta to good use.

6) Spoon in dollops of the ricotta mixture evenly around the sauté pan as shown in the above photo. Sprinkle the 1 cup of mixed shredded cheeses over the pasta/ricotta dollops. Place the entire pan in the oven under the broiler for a couple minutes to broil the cheese on top until brown and bubbly.

Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Pasta with Italian Sausage

Now, THAT is more like it.

7) Serve finished pasta with a garnish of fresh chopped parsley, a sprinkle of extra parmesan cheese, and lots of napkins!

Makes 8 servings.

Cooking with Less Kilowatts: One-Pot Pasta with Italian Sausage

I hope you want more than just that one spoonful as your serving, because I’ll eat the rest of it if you’re not careful.

I hope you enjoy this week’s delicious lasagna-inspired one-pot pasta dish. But be prepared – there may not be any leftovers with this one, as almost every time I make it, every person goes back for seconds (or even thirds)!

I will see you next week for another Cooking with Less Kilowatts recipe to help reduce your energy use!

Recipe and Images by Stacie Morgan

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