One-Pot Wonders

One-Pan Bucatini with Leeks and Lemon

May 23, 2021
4 Ratings
Photo by Alexandra Stafford
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Adapted from Martha Stewart's genius one-pan pasta, this one relies on lots of leeks and garlic. Just before serving, lemon zest and parsley brighten it all up.

Bucatini: Two of my favorite food snobs recently gave me the same box of Barilla bucatini Collezione line (photo above) — it's very good. I mention this brand because I was reading the comments for the original one-pan pasta recipe over on Martha Stewart and saw that the results were mixed — some people found the water too starchy and the noodles to be overcooked. This has not been my experience, and I wonder if the type of noodle makes a difference.

If you have a Parmesan rind, you can add that to the pot at the start. —Alexandra Stafford

What You'll Need
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds leeks
  • 12 ounces bucatini, see notes above
  • 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving, optional
  1. Trim off the root end and dark green portions of each leek. Slice in half lengthwise. At this point, you want to slice the leek into long, thin strips. This is the method I have been using: Place each half cut side up, and slice in half again, then slice each half in half again — essentially you're cutting the leek into eights. Once the leek is in eighths, most of the strips will be nice and thin — you may just need to cut the outer most layers in half again. If leeks are dirty, soak them in a bowl of cold water to allow dirt to settle. Once clean, scoop leeks out from bowl.
  2. Combine leeks, pasta, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you like heat), oil, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, pepper to taste, and water in a large straight-sided skillet (the bucatini should nearly lay flat).
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs or a fork, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes. Add lemon zest and parsley and toss to coat.
  4. Season to taste with salt (I consistently add another 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste), pepper, and pepper flakes for more heat. Serve with Parmesan, if using.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Taylor Stanton
    Taylor Stanton
  • FrugalCat
  • Megan Robertson
    Megan Robertson
  • Betsy
  • ducksandbooks
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.

34 Reviews

chezkathy January 26, 2022
I used cavatappi and a little bit more water because it's so curly. It was absolutely perfect!!! This will definitely be my go-to leek and pasta recipe. Love it!
Cheryl September 6, 2021
Way too much salt. Leeks are sweet and the salt called for in this recipe overwhelms the sweet taste of the leeks. Yes, when you boil pasta separately the water has to be salty. Less so when you’re cooking everything in the same pan because all that salt stays there. After making this recipe several times, half the amount of salt called for is about right and let’s the sweet taste of the leeks shine and it’s enhanced by the brightness of the lemon.
Taylor S. May 23, 2021
As soon as I put this on the stove to boil I thought it would be a mess and not turn out - but it was absolutely delicious! The leeks get perfectly tender and the kick from the pepper flakes was perfect. Definitely will be making again.
Olivia November 10, 2017
This was delicious, plated nicely, and was so simple to make on a weeknight. I followed the instructions as given, using regular Barilla bucatini (not the Collezione line). My husband and I thought the sauce and seasoning was perfect without adding any additional salt/pepper/pepper flakes per step 4. We did top it with some Parmigiano Reggiano, as suggested, and that was a nice finishing touch. The leftovers heated up beautifully for lunch today. This recipe is going into my permanent collection, and I plan to use it with company. Thank you so much for sharing!
Alexandra S. November 10, 2017
I'm so happy to hear this, Olivia!
FrugalCat August 24, 2017
It worked just fine with a short pasta (I also went with the Barilla Collezione line, but used the orecchiette). I served it alongside some leftover meat.
Alexandra S. November 10, 2017
Great to know, FrugalCat! Happy to hear this.
Megan R. August 6, 2017
Wow, loved this! We really enjoyed the spicy of the kick of the red pepper flakes along with the brightness that the lemon rind provided. I shaved some pecorino romano in it and then divided all the pasta in two at the end. On one half, I added a dash of heavy cream - I felt like the dish was just begging to have a light alfredo sauce as part of it. (I was also taking this out to my mom, who loves creamy pasta.) The other half stayed as the original one listed here. We just loved this. Dreaming of making this again, maybe with shrimp or small turkey meatballs.
Alexandra S. November 10, 2017
So happy to hear this Megan! Love the idea of shrimp or meatballs. Yum!
Toddie May 25, 2017
Has anybody tried to cut this recipe in half? Or any of the other one-pot pasta recipes? I've always been curious about the one-pot method but, being single, I don't want to make four servings. Cutting it would allow for a meal and lunch the next day.
Alexandra S. May 25, 2017
I think cutting the recipe in half would work just fine! With this one any of the one-pot recipes.
Betsy May 4, 2017
Really good and worked just as the recipe said. Had my doubts about the amount of sauce I would have in the bottom of the pot.
good, fast and easy!!
Alexandra S. May 4, 2017
So happy to hear this, Betsy!
btglenn April 21, 2017
What many believe this technique originates with Martha Stewart, it goes back a long way, to a traditional Neaopolitan method. First published in "Italian Family Cooking,"(1978) and also in "Eat Right, Eat Well" (1985) both written by Edward Giobbi. He describes:" in 1971 we took a train from Frankfort to Munich -- there was only one other passenger... it was clear from his accent that he was from Naples. He was a factory worker in Germany and he missed his family and Napolitan cooking. I don't think we talked more than three minutes before we were on the subject of food He became more animated as he described his favorite dishes........I knew immediately I was about to get a great recipe. He proceeded to describe, in the most poetic way, the following recipe in expressive Napolitan dialect..... I just could not believe it was possible to cook raw pasta with raw vegetablesn a very small amount of water. I was convinced though when he clasped his hands, rolled his eyes, and exclaimed in
beautiful Napolitano dialect 'It's so good it hurts!' And, though this one seemed to break all the rules, I knew it had to be good." You will find Giobbi's recipe "Spaghettini with broccoletti di rape" and others using this napoliten technique in both aforementioned cookery books. Try it along with the many other delicious recipes in his excellent and charmingly written books.
Alexandra S. May 4, 2017
Wow, so interesting! Thanks so much for sharing. I'll see if I can get those books from my library. Love the story.
saluki June 2, 2017
Eat Right, Eat Well is still one of my favorite Italian cookbooks even after so many decades. The vegetable section of the book alone is enough reason to search out the book. I've been using his Spaghettini with broccoletti di rape recipe for years. Both books are a pleasure to read as much for the stories as for the great recipes.
Josephine April 21, 2017
I used 3/4 lb Barilla bucatini with 4 cups water. I doubled the olive oil and gently sautéed the leeks, garlic, and red pepper before adding the water and pasta. When the pasta was almost cooked I added 1/2 lb blanched, pencil-thin asparagus. By the time the pasta was cooked, the asparagus were heated through and a small amount of light sauce was present at the bottom of the pan. I tossed parsley and grated lemon peel with Parmesan served at the table.
Alexandra S. May 4, 2017
Love this! Thanks for writing in. Asparagus sound like such a nice addition here.
ducksandbooks November 14, 2016
works well with 16 oz of pasta, 8 oz sliced mushrooms, and 4.5 c water
Alexandra S. November 15, 2016
Nice! Great to hear.
Sarah November 8, 2016
Yep. I had a gummy, starchy sauce - not good :( I used dried Bucatini from a local Italian restaurant. The noodles will definitely make a difference. I'm going to try it again sautéing the garlic, leeks and chile, adding it to the pasta after the pasta has cooked separately, then tossing it all together with some olive oil, salt, parmesan and lemon juice/grated rind afterward,
Alexandra S. November 9, 2016
Such a bummer to hear this! Your fix sounds good.
erin November 7, 2016
I made this largely out of curiosity regarding the 'one pan' approach. Unfortunately I had the same result many people reported from Stewart's original recipe - a tasty but rather gummy sauce, in this case featuring a lot of boiled leeks. I'd assume that simply sautéing the leeks, garlic and chile whilst the pasta cooks separately will result in a more elegant dish. I have, however, had great success with Smitten Kitchen's recipe for one-pan farro so it would be interesting to try these flavours with that method.
Alexandra S. November 7, 2016
Oh no! That's too bad. What kind of pasta did you use?
erin November 7, 2016
I used Spaghetti No. 8 by Amália Speciale (a Brazilian brand). It typically takes 9 or 10 minutes to cook by boiling, and it worked well here in that it turned out al dente in the time you specified, but it did result in a very starchy sauce. Perhaps as you mention in your notes the bucatini makes a difference.
Alexandra S. November 7, 2016
Good to know! I should try with other long noodles to see if I experience the same as others, but I'm loving my bucatini :)
Fresh T. November 3, 2016
I love this method Ali! You rock!
Alexandra S. November 6, 2016
THanks, Dana!!
Susan W. November 3, 2016
I fell in love with Martha's one pan pasta after seeing it on this site. Your version looks awesome. We'll have it tomorrow night.
Alexandra S. November 3, 2016
Susan why am I only just making this?!! It is so good.
Susan W. November 3, 2016
Lol. Can't wait. I had to pry myself away from your Sheet Pan Chicken. I am pretty sure I can eat that every day forever. The cabbage and golden acorn squash (my little addition) are sooo good!
Alexandra S. November 3, 2016
Haha, I love it :) I still have that acorn squash staring at me ... maybe tonight. Can't wait!! xo
Noreen F. November 2, 2016
I might try this with Aleppo pepper to up the citrusy component.
Alexandra S. November 2, 2016
Nice! That sounds lovely.