Ina Garten and Martha Stewart's easy pasta dishes are ready in minutes, and the best one practically makes itself
Martha Stewart's favorite pasta dish cooks in a saucepan. Anneta Konstantinides / Insider
I've tried both Ina Garten and Martha Stewart's favorite simple pasta dishes.
Both Garten's summer garden noodles and Stewart's one-pan noodles are based on vegetables and herbs and have almost identical ingredients.
Garten's recipe calls for soaking tomatoes in olive oil for four hours, while Stewart's only takes 20 minutes total.
But the extra step is well worth the wait as Garten's pasta was much richer and more exciting in taste.
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When I'm looking for something to have dinner quickly and easily, I always turn to Ina Garten and Martha Stewart for inspiration.
Both women have mastered the art of creating delicious recipes that are accessible to chefs of all skill levels - even the lowest (like, um, me).
And I recently discovered that they each have a popular simple pasta dish with nearly identical ingredients but very different cooking techniques.
So I whipped up Garten's summer garden noodles and Stewart's stew noodles to see which would come out on top. And while the winner just needed a bit more preparation, the extra work was definitely worth it.
Both the pasta dishes by Ina Garten and Martha Stewart are based exclusively on vegetables and herbs for their taste.
Ina Garten and Martha Stewart create delicious and easy-to-prepare recipes. Noam Galai / Contributor / Getty Images and Cindy Ord / Contributor / Getty Images
Garten shared an Instagram post about her summer garden pasta in August, while Stewart's one-pan pasta went viral in 2014 when she demonstrated how to cook the dish on her PBS show, Martha Stewart's Cooking School.
Stewart also spoke about the dish when I interviewed her recently, revealing that one of her favorite things to do is when she has less than 30 minutes to cook.
I've dealt with great kitchen fatigue after so many months at home, and both Garten and Stewart's quick and easy pasta seemed great new candidates for my recipe repertoire.
I made garden summer garden noodles first, which requires angel hair and a few simple ingredients.
Garten's summer garden noodles include angel hair, parmesan, and cherry tomatoes. Anneta Konstantinides / Insider
To conjure up garden's favorite summer pasta, you also need:
Red pepper flakes
Garten's recipe also calls for "good" olive oil, which, as you will see, is a very important part of this dish.
The preparation for garden summer garden noodles is minimal. I just had to chop my tomatoes, garlic, and basil.
Preparing for Garten's pasta only took five minutes. Anneta Konstantinides / Insider
I cut my cherry tomatoes in half, chopped three cloves of garlic and julienned nine basil leaves according to Garten's recipe (which I halved for three instead of six servings).
Then I tossed the ingredients in a bowl and seasoned them with half a teaspoon of salt, some red pepper flakes, and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper.
The main difference between Garten and Stewart's recipes is that you need to plan ahead to prepare the summer garden noodles.
I soaked my tomato mixture in olive oil and let it sit for four hours. Anneta Konstantinides / Insider
While a garden dish has very minimal preparation, it gets most of its flavor by soaking the tomatoes in olive oil for four hours before serving.
It may seem like a time consuming step, but I whipped up the mix lightly on my lunch break. I soaked everything in a cup of olive oil, threw it up, covered the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside (it has to stay at room temperature).
The entire process took less than five minutes. How easy is it, as garden would say?
While Garten's recipe requires more prep time, the actual cooking time is far shorter than that of Stewart's stew noodles.
It only took five minutes for my angel hair to boil. Anneta Konstantinides / Insider
Garten's summer garden noodles are made from angel hair, which cooks much faster than other types of noodle because it's so thin.
The star "Barefoot Contessa" even warns in her recipe against being particularly careful when cooking the pasta, because "it only takes two to three minutes!"
It actually took my angel hair noodles five minutes to perfectly al dente, but I still couldn't believe how quick the entire cooking process was.
After draining my noodles, I tossed my noodles into a bowl with the tomato mixture.
I rounded it all off with basil leaves and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Anneta Konstantinides / Insider
The moment I took the plastic wrap with my tomatoes off the bowl, I was struck by a deliciously fresh and fresh scent that reminded me of bruschetta.
After throwing it all together, I added freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves.
Waiting for the four hour olive oil marinade in the garden was worth it.
Garten's pasta was deliciously rich without being too heavy. Anneta Konstantinides / Insider
I couldn't believe how much flavor had been injected into those cherry tomatoes. They were so filling and tasty that I started eating them before I even took my first bite of the pasta.
The angel hair noodles were also the perfect base for this dish, balancing the richness of the tomatoes and olive oil with their fluffiness. It was a nice contrast in taste and texture that still kept the pasta light - without affecting the taste.
Next came Stewart's one-pan pasta, which contains almost exactly the same ingredients as Garten's summer garden pasta.
Stewart's one-pan pasta is made with linguine, cherry tomatoes, and basil. Anneta Konstantinides / Insider
Both Stewart and Garten use cherry tomatoes, garlic, basil, red pepper flakes, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
But Stewart opts for linguine instead of angel hair noodle for her dish, and she also adds an onion to the mixture.
As with Garten's recipe, Stewart's one-pan pasta requires minimal preparation.
Stewart's pasta also took just five minutes to prepare. Anneta Konstantinides / Insider
I also only had to chop up three ingredients for Stewart's dish. First I cut the tomatoes in half, then I thinly sliced my onion and a few cloves of garlic.
Similar to gardening, it only took me five minutes.
But unlike Garten's dish, I was ready to cook Stewart's pasta right after I prepared my ingredients.
Then all I had to do was toss all the ingredients in a pan. Anneta Konstantinides / Insider
All you have to do is toss all of the ingredients in a pan. You don't even boil the water first!
I tossed the linguine, cherry tomatoes, onions, and garlic in the pan with four and a half cups of water.
Then I added two basil leaves, two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, half a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, two teaspoons of salt, and a few twists of my pepper mill.
I stepped back to admire the pan for a second before turning on the stove. The colors all looked so fresh and beautiful together, I had such high hopes.
Stewart's pasta takes a lot longer to cook than Garten's, but I found the whole process to be quite comforting.
It took 20 minutes for the dish to cook. Anneta Konstantinides / Insider
After a few minutes had passed and the softened noodles were completely submerged in the water, I felt almost calm as I carefully turned and flipped it over with my tongs.
Within minutes, my entire kitchen filled with the most inviting aroma. My roommate even looked up from his NBA playoff game to explain how delicious it smelled.
It took a total of 20 minutes to cook Stewart's pasta.
I waited for most of the water to evaporate before serving the pasta. Anneta Konstantinides / Insider
According to Stewart's recipe, I waited until the water "almost evaporated" before turning off the stove.
Stewart's pasta looked delicious and definitely tasted fresh, but it was a little too easy for me.
I topped the dish with freshly grated parmesan. Anneta Konstantinides / Insider
There was an air of richness there thanks to the olive oil and tomatoes which had a nice, bubble texture, but this pasta just didn't have a lot of oomph.
I was able to get more flavor out of the pasta after adding a lot more pepper and crushed red pepper flakes, but the winner of this showdown was clear.
While Garten's pasta is a little more forward-looking than Stewart's, the results are definitely worth the wait.
Garten's summer garden noodles were the clear winner of this showdown. Anneta Konstantinides / Insider
Garten and Stewart's recipes all have almost the same ingredients, but I found the star's dish, Barefoot Contessa, to have more flavor. Your pasta brought me back to the meals I had years ago on a summer trip with friends in Italy, where the pasta was simple and cheap - and yet somehow still so rich and tasty. Garten's decision to use angel hair also enhances her dish, providing an interesting contrast in textures that I thought Stewart's pasta was inconsistent with the linguine when made.
I would try Stewart's dish again, but with a few changes. I can use chicken broth instead of water to spice things up, or try frying the onions and garlic first to get more flavor out of them.
As Gartens Pasta has proven, sometimes an extra step or two can make all the difference.
I made Ina Garten's simple summer pasta dish and it reminded me of dinner in Italy
I tried Martha Stewart's pan pasta dish and had dinner on the table in 20 minutes
Ina Garten and Martha Stewart's adult grilled cheese are both delicious, but the easiest to make has the advantage
I made Ina Gartens 5 cheese penne pasta and it was the comfort dish of my dreams
This is a split opinion. The thoughts expressed are those of the authors.
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