Kenzie Can't Cook - Ep. 1 One Pot Lemon Zucchini Basil Pasta
Not so long ago, my friend Kenzie proudly proclaimed that not only can she not cook, but she wants to share just how bad of a cook she thinks she is with all of Zest's followers for the benefit of my business. Thus was born Kenzie Can't Cook, a video series where I, Margi (Marguerite) walk Kenzie through how to make a new-to-her recipe to help cultivate her culinary chops.
On our first episode of Kenzie Can't Cook, I talk Kenzie through the famed/dreaded/much maligned one-pot-pasta method. Depending on who you ask, this is either the greatest invention of all time, or literally the worst thing that has ever happened to pasta.
To those who say "Italians don't cook pasta this way," well apparently those people have never had Pasta con Ceci - a hearty dish of pasta and chickpeas cooked in their own, tomato paste and rosemary infused sauce that hails from Rome - which has been around since...well, long before Martha Stewart and The Food Network.
So whether or not you believe one-pot-pastas are a form of sacrilege against the Italian school of cookery (which is really less of a school and more of a bunch of Nonnas from different regions insisting their Pasta Con Ceci is the best), you can follow along with Kenzie to find out is it really possible to cook your pasta and your sauce in one pot without getting gummy noodles and flavorless sauce!?
One Pot Lemon Zucchini Basil Pasta
This recipe is modified from a recipe by Alexa Weibel that appeared in the New York Times Cooking Section. I just added lemon zest and juice to cut the creaminess of the dish and changed the suggestion for the type of noodle to use. The author recommends using medium sized shells, but when I tried it with shells they tended to "nest" together creating dense packets of under cooked noodle. I prefer a hollow, short noodle that won't clump together easily and has lots of nooks and crannies for the sauce to find its way into!
2 ¾ cups vegetable stock
12 ounces pasta (small noodles like rigatoni or penne work best here)
2 medium zucchini (about 14 ounces total), trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 ounces mascarpone, crème fraîche or softened cream cheese
2 tablespoons lemon juice (about one lemon)
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
⅓ packed cup thinly sliced basil
Kosher salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped roasted salted almonds
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
Zest from one lemon
For the gremolata:
In a large, deep 12-inch skillet, bring stock to a boil over high heat. Once stock boils, stir in pasta, zucchini, mascarpone, garlic lemon juice and half the basil; season generously with salt and pepper and reduce the heat to medium-high.
Cook, stirring frequently, until pasta is tender and liquid is reduced until thickened and creamy, 12 to 13 minutes, adding a splash of water during the last few minutes of cooking if needed to moisten. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, prepare the gremolata: Chop almonds and parsley with remaining basil until finely chopped and combined; season with salt and pepper and add the lemon zest.
Divide pasta among shallow bowls. Sprinkle with gremolata and serve immediately.
Tools for this recipe:
- Marguerite Jodry