The Barefoot Contessa star pivoted her content to share pantry-friendly dishes and tips with her 2.9 million followers, often modifying past recipes based on what she already had in her kitchen. Instagram Embed: //instagram.com/p/B94SKHvpnKQ/embed Width: 800pxThe Instagram's really given me a point of reference, she told The Atlantic back in April. I started it thinking I just wanted people to feel like I was reaching out and supporting them, but they kept asking me questions. And I just thought, this is so great. It's like a town-hall meeting for, 'What can I do with what's in my fridge?' To try and give myself some confidence in the kitchen, I decided to live like Garten for a day. I had very little cooking experience — and even fewer kitchen tools — so I couldn't help but feel a bit overwhelmed as I prepared for the project. But Garten had promised that her broccoli and bow ties pasta was crazy easy, and could be easily adapted with whatever was in your pantry. Instagram Embed: //instagram.com/p/B96zkbIJvbY/embed Width: 800pxGarten's dish looked so fresh and healthy, I knew it was exactly what I needed as New York City shook off the end of winter. Like Garten, I didn't have any broccoli — which is actually my least favorite vegetable — in my pantry. But I did have broccolini, as she had used in the new lockdown-friendly version of her dish (don't ask me how I can like broccolini but hate broccoli, I too am perplexed). I cooked the broccolini for three minutes in a large pot of boiling salted water, per Garten's recipe.Since most of my veggies had been coming out of frozen Trader Joe's bags at the start of lockdown (unless you count the ones on top of my combo pizzas), I was almost in awe of how bright and fresh the broccolini looked. Garten recommends cooking your pasta in the same water. Like the Barefoot Contessa star, I didn't have bow ties in my pantry, nor did I have cavatappi — which she had used in the new version of her recipe. But I did have half a bag of penne left, so I dumped it in the water and let the noodles cook for around 12 minutes. Garten's recipe calls for lemon zest, but I didn't even have a toaster in my tiny, windowless NYC kitchen — much less a zester! Thankfully, though, we live in the time of Google, and a quick search proved that all I needed was a vegetable peeler and a good knife to get the job done. So, I peeled the skin from my lemon and got to chopping. Garten's recipe also calls for lemon juice (freshly squeezed, of course), so I cut the same lemon in half and squeezed out some of its juice into a small bowl. First I heated three tablespoons of unsalted butter and three tablespoons of good olive oil (Garten wouldn't have it any other way!) in a small sauté pan, adding the lemon zest and one teaspoon of minced garlic. When one minute was up, I took the pan off the heat and added two teaspoons of salt, one tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a few twists of black pepper. And just like that, I had made my very first pasta sauce from scratch.I drizzled my sauce right on top and made sure to add plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I didn't have pine nuts, which Garten also recommends, but next time I would definitely add them for some extra crunch.Before I lived like Garten for a day, my quarantine diet had mostly consisted of frozen veggies and eggs. So to make such a pretty pasta from scratch, even one as simple as Garten's broccoli and bow ties, felt really fulfilling — especially during such a difficult time. I have always been a red-sauce pasta kinda gal. Put a heaping pile of bolognese on my spaghetti and I am extremely happy. So, to be honest, I wasn't expecting to adore this pasta. But I loved how refreshing Garten's dish tasted. The garlic and lemon added a burst of flavor, but the mild sweetness from the broccolini was still present. And the sharpness from the Parmesan cheese helped to tie everything together, adding just a hint of richness.I made broccoli and bow ties on the same day as I whipped up Garten's salmon teriyaki and broccolini, and later discovered that they were a match made in heaven. The light and fluffy salmon is the perfect partner for the penne, and the subtle tang from its savory sauce adds a little more depth of flavor to the pasta. In those first few months of the pandemic, it was hard not to get swept up in how other people were spending their time in the kitchen. It seemed like everyone was whipping up tiny pancakes and baking fresh bread. But Garten showed me that cooking from scratch doesn't have to be complicated. A homemade pasta sauce can take less than two minutes. You can amp up fish with just a few ingredients. And a little seasoning goes a long way with fresh veggies. It was the confidence boost I needed as I began to realize just how much time I'd be spending in the kitchen this year. And, since then, I've experimented with even more of Garten's many pasta dishes. And I won't be stopping anytime soon. Read more:I made Ina Garten's easy salmon dish and had dinner on the table in 15 minutesI lived like Ina Garten in lockdown for a day and it was the most fun I've had in quarantineI made Ina Garten's easy summer pasta dish and it reminded me of dinners in ItalyI made Ina Garten's 5-cheese penne pasta and it was the comfort dish of my dreamsThis is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author(s).