Last night we made a very simple, quick dinner—spaghetti, broccoli, and tomato sauce—and it was even easier because we put everything that needed to boil in the same big pot. It takes a little finesse with the timing, but it streamlines the process and eliminates another dirty pan.
Boiling your vegetables with your pasta isn't going to give you layers of different flavors and textures, like adding roasted vegetables would. And it works best if you're just adding one vegetable, so you aren't tossing in different things at different times, all while making sure your pasta won't overcook.
We made our dish with a whole wheat spaghetti that we cook often, so we know exactly how long it takes (it's also more forgiving than regular pasta, since it takes longer to cook and doesn't get gummy as fast). We threw in the broccoli with about five minutes to go, and it was perfectly tender by the time we drained the whole pot.
If you often blanch vegetables or sauté them ahead of time before adding to a pasta dish, try this method. Especially on a busy night, it's nice to skip an extra step.
(Image: Elizabeth Passarella)