Today was a busy day, smack in the middle of a busy week.
I was working late, and was famished by the time I came home. Usually when this happens I inhale whatever I can pass off as a snack while I boil some water, and cook noodles as fast as I can. And when I say cook noodles, I mean the ones that come in boxes with powdered sauce packages. My personal fave are these from Near East.
Tonight things were different.
It started when I realized I had exactly one glass of wine left in an empty bottle of white.
And that I had all the ingredients I needed to make a recipe I had flagged a while ago.
And for a reason completely unbeknownst to me, I didn’t inhale everything within reach before I sat down to dinner. I put my Pandora Christmas station on, set water to boil, sliced some garlic, and zested a lemon.
And that’s pretty much it.
The rest of the dinner-making process was just adding ingredients to a pan.
While this recipe sat pretty in my bookmarks folder, several options for jazzing it up passed in and out of my head. I thought about adding dried cranberries, a la this Giada fave. Almonds would have given the dish a nice crunch. You certainly can’t go wrong with prosciutto either.
But tonight was an evening of restraint. I didn’t eat before/while I cooked. I didn’t reach for the pre-fab noodles. And I held back when the time would have come for mix-ins. Dear readers, I didn’t even sprinkle Parmesan on top.
I. Didn’t. Even. Sprinkle. Parmesan. On. Top.
I don’t recognize myself.
And it was worth it. Eating this dinner was a most wonderful welcome home–fresh from the arugula and lemon, and rich from the ricotta and pasta.
Next time you’re home from work, and you have 8 million to-dos to cross off your list, pause for a minute, and consider the merits of making dinner from scratch.
To make lemon ricotta spaghetti with arugula for 3, you will need:
- 1/2 pound (8 oz.) spaghetti (this is a great way to camouflage whole wheat pasta)
- 1/4 C EVOO
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- zest of 1 lemon, reserve lemon juice
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 C fresh ricotta (I love Maplebrook, which I find at Whole Foods)
- 4 C lightly packed arugula
Set a pot of salted water to boil. While you’re waiting, place the garlic and olive oil in a large saute pan, and heat slowly over low heat. You’re aiming to infuse the oil with flavor, not brown anything. When the water is boiling, add pasta and cook according to package directions. While the pasta cooks, add lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and ricotta to saute pan. Turn the heat to the lowest possible setting if you haven’t already. Give things a stir, and let them heat up while coming together. Using tongs, transfer the spaghetti to the saute pan (if you drain the pasta, reserve a bit of the cooking water). Turn the heat off the saute pan and add arugula, tossing with tongs till it wilts. This can get dry, so add pasta water if needed. I added about 1/3 C.
Serve hot, in bowls with a squeeze of lemon juice on top.