One-Pot Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Kale

bowl of pasta with cherry tomatoes and kale

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 1 review

In this magical recipe for one-pot pasta with kale and tomatoes, starchy pasta water creates a flavorful "sauce" for the noodles. This is a quick, easy and really flavorful pasta dish. 

This recipe was updated 5/23/2022

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times recipe for One-Pot Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes and Kale.


Units Scale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups frozen chopped spinach or chopped frozen kale
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved, or regular tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 16 ounces spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more to taste


  1. In a small pot or teapot, bring 4 ¼ cups water to a boil.
  2. In a Dutch oven or a wide, deep skillet with a lid (it should be wide enough for dried spaghetti to lie flat) warm the olive oil over medium heat and add the frozen spinach/kale. Saute the spinach/kale until it’s no longer frozen, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and tomatoes, and saute about 1 minute more. 
  4. Add the spaghetti (do not break the noodles). It’s okay if the noodles are stacked mostly in the middle of the skillet or Dutch oven. (see photos in the blog post above)
  5. Carefully pour the boiling water into the skillet. Add the salt.  Keeping the heat on medium, bring the water back to a boil. 
  6. Set a timer for 6 minutes. Continue to rapidly simmer the pasta over medium heat, using tongs to frequently move the spaghetti around so it doesn’t stick together in clumps as it cooks. For quite awhile, it won't look like anything is happening, but trust me, the noodles will slowly start absorbing the water as they cook.
  7. After 6 minutes, taste a noodle. The spaghetti should be getting tender but still fairly firm (al dente).  Simmer another 1 to 2 minutes, moving the pasta around with tongs frequently, until the pasta is tender but not mushy and most of the water is absorbed.
  8. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the pasta and let it sit with a lid for 2 to 3 minutes.
  9. Most of the liquid should be completely absorbed when you lift the lid. If the noodles don't seem completely cooked, put the lid back on for a minute or two.
  10. Stir really well with tongs before serving. Add salt and more parmesan to taste if needed. 
  11. When you transfer the spaghetti to a serving bowl, use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the skillet so that all of the flavorful, starchy "sauce" comes out with the noodles. 


The thickness of the spaghetti noodles affects the total cooking time. Thin spaghetti noodles will cook faster than thicker noodles.