OPINION | FRONT BURNER: One pan perfect for this lemon pasta dish

One-Pan Lemon Parmesan Pasta (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

My experience with one-pan pasta recipes has been hit or miss.

In the worst of cases the pasta sticks together, the sauce is tasteless or the whole recipe comes out tasting pasty. This recipe, adapted from "The Ultimate 5-Ingredient Cookbook: Whole Food Flavorful Meals Made Simple" by Rebecca White (Page Street, to be released in July, $22) was a definite hit.

I halved the recipe because it's just my husband and me and this isn't the kind of dish that works well as leftovers. We ate every morsel.

You'll note the title of the cookbook says five ingredients, but there are actually eight in the recipe. White does not include her pantry staples — such as salt, pepper, dried spices, oil, flour, honey, lemon, vinegar, sugar and butter — in the total.

The keys to this recipe's success are to stir almost continuously so that the pasta doesn't stick together, and use a pan wide enough to accommodate the pasta.

The original recipe did not call for parsley, but I had some on hand I needed to use, so I sprinkled it on at the end. Basil would be delicious, too.

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One-Pan Lemon Parmesan Pasta

  • 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided use
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces strand pasta such as linguine, fettuccine or spaghetti
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • Chopped flatleaf parsley, optional garnish

Using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, cut 3 wide strips of peel, avoiding the white pith as much as possible, from one of the lemons. Zest the remaining peel and the remaining lemon. Juice both lemons; you should have about ¼ cup juice. Set peel, zest and juice aside.

In a large, wide pan, melt a tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 3 cups of water, the wide strips of lemon peel, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Stir well and then add the pasta. Increase heat to high. The pasta may not fit all at once. Gently press on it with a spatula or spoon; it will soften as the water heats and eventually submerge. This could take 5 minutes or so. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium-high and continue cooking, stirring pasta with a fork to keep it from sticking together, for 7 minutes or until pasta is almost al dente. Add the cream and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes or until sauce has thickened and the pasta is al dente. Turn off heat and add the remaining tablespoon of butter and let it melt. Stir in as much or as little of the lemon juice as you like (I used about 3 tablespoons; if you want it more lemon-forward, use all of the lemon juice) and the parmesan cheese. Let stand (I covered the pan) for 5 to 8 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.

Serve in shallow bowls and garnish with additional black pepper, lemon zest, parmesan and parsley, if desired.

Makes 2 main dish or 4 side dish servings.