Friday, June 30, 2017

Spaghetti with Lemon and Walnuts

Last Year's Post: Grilled Lobster Tails
Two Years Ago:   Southwest Grilled Shrimp Salad

If spaghetti with marinara and meatballs is classic winter comfort food, then this is its summer cousin - spaghetti with a light but very flavorful sauce of lemon, garlic, parsley and walnuts. It's definitely an unusual combination for spaghetti, don't you think?  You can serve it either warm or at room temperature, making it even more appealing for warm summer months.  And of course you could add some grilled chicken or shrimp if you really want, but I find it very satisfying as a vegetarian entree.

I think of this recipe as being minimalist in concept but definitely not in taste.  Just because it doesn't have a long list of ingredients, don't be fooled.  Each ingredient plays an important part for big impact: fruity olive oil, fragrant lemon zest and bright juice, mellow garlic slices, grassy parsley, crunchy toasted walnuts, grated Parmesan, and freshly ground black pepper.  Because there are so few ingredients, be sure to use the best you can find.

The original recipe called for adding the parmesan into the pasta while it's still in the pan, and stirring to make a "creamy sauce".  I found it made big gooey clumps of parsley and half-melted cheese instead, so I adapted the recipe to add the parmesan later.  Same tastes, happier result.

Spaghetti with Lemon and Walnuts
Serves 3-4

May be served warm or at room temperature.

8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for drizzling
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Zest from ½ lemon
2 ½ ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 2/3 cup)
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 lemon, cut into quarters, for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 teaspoon salt.  Add pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions.  Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid, then drain the pasta.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook 2 minutes until pale golden-brown.  Place the pasta in the skillet, tossing to coat.  Add the parsley and toss, adding some pasta water if the pasta looks dry.  Taste and adjust salt if needed; sprinkle with pepper. 

Divide among shallow bowls and garnish with lemon zest, parmesan and walnuts.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and add lemon quarters on the side for squeezing.

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