5 one-veg pasta sauces you have to try

These quick pasta sauces require less than five ingredients and champion just one vegetable from root to fruit so nothing goes to waste.

1 fresh beetroots with stalks and leaves

BROCCOLI

This green pasta sauce is a great way of using a whole head of broccoli, including the stalk. Here it’s cooked twice, once in boiling water and again in a frying pan with garlic and oil. If you’re serving with pasta straight away, save the broccoli cooking water and bring it back to a boil with a pinch of salt to cook the pasta, then toss it through and serve with black pepper and a little grated cheese if you like.

  1. Cut your broccoli into florets and slice the stalk, removing the tough skin first, then cook in a pan of boiling water until tender and you can easily pierce it with a knife (about 7 minutes). 
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan, gently fry a couple of finely chopped garlic cloves and a little chilli in a good glug of olive oil (about 6 tablespoons), being careful not to let it burn. 
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked broccoli to the garlic with a splash of the water. 
  4. Season with salt and cook the broccoli again in the oil for a couple of minutes until breaking apart and creamy. 

BEETROOT

This is a brilliantly bright pasta sauce, made creamier with the addition of ricotta. If you’re serving with pasta straight away, save the beetroot cooking water and bring it back to a boil with a pinch of salt to cook the pasta. If you have walnuts, toast them in a dry frying pan, then roughly chop and sprinkle them on before serving. Chop any beetroot leaves and fry in a pan with garlic and oil, then toss through your pasta along with your sauce.

  1. Peel and trim your beetroots, then cut into quarters. 
  2. Cook until tender in a pan of boiling water.
  3. Remove to a blender with a good spoonful of ricotta, a glug of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of chilli flakes and salt. 
  4. Blitz the lot until creamy, adding more oil or cooking water if you want a looser sauce. 

BUTTERNUT SQUASH

This is a delicious one-pan pasta dish, in which both sauce and pasta are cooked in the same pan. It’s best if you use half a butternut squash here (about 600g) and save the rest for another time. Chilli flakes, crispy fried sage or fresh basil are great additions for serving. 

  1. Peel and chop ½ a butternut squash into 1cm cubes. 
  2. In a large saucepan, fry 3 sliced garlic cloves and some chopped rosemary leaves for a minute or so, then add the squash and pour in 1 litre of vegetable stock. 
  3. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the squash is tender. 
  4. Add 400g pasta directly to the pan (penne or other short pasta shapes work well here), adding a little more water if needed so that the pasta is submerged. 
  5. Cook for a few minutes less than the packet cooking instructions, then remove the lid and cook until the liquid has reduced and thickened, and the pasta is al-dente. 
  6. Add a bit of grated Parmesan and stir well until silky and creamy. Serve immediately.

KALE OR CAVOLO NERO 

A vibrant green sauce made with kale, cavolo nero or even chard or any hardy leafy greens. If you’re serving with pasta straight away, save the greens cooking water and bring it back to a boil with a pinch of salt to cook the pasta. Alternatively, store the sauce in a jar in the fridge for up to 3 days. 

  1. Roughly chop 200g of kale or cavolo nero and finely slice any tough stalk. 
  2. Place the greens and 4 whole, peeled garlic cloves in a pan of boiling water and blanch for 5 minutes. 
  3. Remove the greens and garlic with tongs to a blender, grate in a handful of hard cheese, like Parmesan, and add a glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Blitz until smooth. Season to taste.

RED ONION

You might be surprised to learn that a few onions at the bottom of your veg drawer can make a deliciously silky sweet pasta sauce. 

  1. Peel and very finely slice 500g red onions.
  2. Gently fry in a frying pan over a low heat with a few tablespoons of olive oil, a knob of butter and a pinch of salt until caramelised and sticky. It will take about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. To serve, toss through pasta with gratings of cheese.
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