Too Busy To Cook? One-Pan Spaghetti Dinner to the Rescue!

When I’m out in the world, teaching and speaking about food, I meet people who say they are too busy to cook. Life gets crazy, things pile up, and the next thing you know, you’re eating chips out of a bag, or picking up take-out. Either of those options will fill you up, but it’s probably not going to nourish you the way you deserve to be nourished. It is also a waste of money to eat take out, when you can make a meal for just a few bucks at home.

That’s where this One-Pan Spaghetti with Chickpeas comes in. Grab a big pot and start sautéing half a chopped onion, and while it softens, chop some garlic, grate some lemon zest, halve grape tomatoes, chop a carrot. Don’t bother to put on a pot of water to cook the spaghetti-it’s going to cook in the pot with the veggies!

20 Minutes, Start to Finish

With a box of spaghetti and can of chickpeas in the pantry, you are never too busy to cook. A carrot, a lemon, some grape tomatoes, and just 20 minutes of your time will give you this respectable meal. Once you give it a try, you can always customize it with other vegetables, like that zucchini that is languishing in the vegetable drawer, or spinach instead of arugala.

The Pasta Water Makes A Sauce

Once you add the water and vegetables, the spaghetti drinks up the liquids and also gives off some starches. Stirring the pot keeps the spaghetti from sticking together, and also creates a slightly thickened coating for the pasta and vegetables. The end result is a bowl of pasta comfort, perfect for a chilly Fall night. Especially if you’re too busy to cook.

One-Pan Spaghetti with Chickpeas

Course Main Course, Pasta
Keyword #wholegrain, pasta, quick meals
Servings 4
Author Robin Asbell


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 12 ounces grape tomatoes halved lengthwise
  • 1 large carrot chopped
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
  • 2 1/2 cups water approximately
  • 2 cups fresh arugula packed, chopped
  • your fave "parm"


  • In a 4 quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and stir until they sizzle. Reduce the heat to medium and stir frequently. after about 5 minutes, stir in the garlic and lemon zest and stir.
  • Add the tomatoes, carrots, salt, spaghetti and water. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
  • Stir and turn for 12 minutes, using a metal spatula or tongs to keep the pasta from sticking together or to the bottom of the pan.
  • When the pasta is cooked and the liquids have thickened and are coating the pasta, stir in the arugula and turn until barely wilted.
  • Serve hot, with "parm."