One-Pot Wonders

One-Pan Pea, Lemon, and Asparagus Pasta

April 22, 2019
7 Ratings
Photo by Ana Cuba
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This pasta is a complete revelation. It's been one of the most popular recipes from my Guardian column, so I wanted to include it here. The sauce is magically made from the pasta water and asparagus as the pasta cooks—all in one pan. No fuss, and a killer bowl of pasta.

The key to this recipe is to measure your water carefully and use the right pan: You need a large, shallow sauté pan or a casserole dish large enough to fit the pasta lying down. A large, deep frying pan or wok would work too. Keep tossing the pasta as it cooks to keep it from sticking, as there is less water than you might be used to. Make sure your pasta is a type that cooks in 8 minutes; any longer will need water and more cooking.

I use sorrel here. It's a bright green, lemony, almost juicy leaf that I love. Be sure to add it if you can get your hands on it. If not, use watercress. The flavor will be more peppery than the sprightly lemon tang of sorrel, but both work beautifully.

Recipe excerpted with permission from The Modern Cook's Year by Anna Jones, with the permission of Abrams Books. Copyright © 2019. —Anna Jones

What You'll Need
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100 g) sorrel or watercress or spinach
  • 2 large unwaxed lemons
  • 14 ounces (400 g) spaghetti or linguine
  • 14 ounces (400 g) asparagus
  • 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 7 ounces (200 g) fresh podded or frozen peas
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100 ml) olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 1 bunch fresh basil or mint
  • 1 1/2 ounces (40 g) freshly grated Parmesan (I use a vegetarian/rennet-free one)
  1. Fill a kettle with water and boil, and get all your ingredients and equipment together. If you are using spinach or watercress, scrunch it between your hands with a little lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
  2. Put the pasta into a pan. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and chop the stalks into 1⁄4-inch rounds, leaving the tips intact. Put the tips to one side and throw the rounds into the pan along with the garlic and peas. Grate in the zest of both lemons and add the oil and salt. Add 41⁄2 cups (1 liter) of boiling water, put a lid on the pan and bring to a boil. As soon as it comes to the boil, remove the lid and simmer on a high heat for 8 minutes, using a pair of tongs to turn the pasta every 30 seconds or so as it cooks.
  3. Meanwhile, remove any big stalks from the watercress (if using). Once the pasta has had 8 minutes, take the lid off and stir in the asparagus tips, the sorrel, and the basil or mint. Squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon and simmer for a final 2 minutes.
  4. Once almost all the water has evaporated, take the pan off the heat and leave to sit for a minute or two, so the pasta can absorb most of the remaining water and form a lemony sauce. Tangle into four bowls and top with a little Parmesan.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Angela Davis
    Angela Davis
  • Brinda Ayer
    Brinda Ayer
  • liliana
  • Mary Ellen Finucane
    Mary Ellen Finucane

5 Reviews

liliana May 4, 2020
Is there a way of making this without the one-pot method? I have never had great results with one-pot pasta. It seems a trendy solution to time constraints with fast-food quality results.
The ingredients are exciting here and I want to try it.
Angela D. June 7, 2019
I have this on the stove right now. One question, in Step 2 it tells us to take the lid off, then in Step 3 it says to remove the lid. I am guessing that the mistake is in Step 3, right?
Mary E. May 19, 2019
Just made this pasta dish. I followed the directions to the letter. It was tasty, but I would make one definite change. Add all the asparagus together at the end, and the peas at the end as well. The asparagus stems were way over cooked. Think about it - the little rounds cooked for 10 minutes! The longer it sits in the pan after cooking the creamier the sauce gets. I'm not sure this will be a go-to recipe, but it was good for a change and looked very pretty on the plate. BTW I used mint from my garden.
Lindsay O. April 23, 2019
About to try this super tasty looking recipe! One thing though: I think you might mean 3 ounces of oil, not 300?
Brinda A. April 24, 2019
Thanks for catching, Lindsay! You're absolutely right—it's been updated to the correct amount, 3 1/2 ounces (definitely not 300—we're not making confit this time around!).