Saturday, May 31, 2008

Making it up as you go ...

Today we went on a huge grocery shopping trip because we were going to go all the way to Mishawaka (about 20 minutes away) and I thought I might as well take advantage of shopping in a "real" town while I had the chance. And with gas prices so high these days I had to take advantage since I doubt we will be going out there again too soon. Anyway, I made a big list for the week and got a lot of other things on sale (so I may have overbought), and we headed home. But when I got home I realized I hadn't planned for dinner tonight! So I had to be creative without using too much of the ingredients intended for other meals. So ... this is one of my make it up as I go meals that worked out really well. It's essentially a combination of some of my favorite pasta dishes that are easy and quick and take few ingredients. Well, that and it had to satisfy my spontaneous cravings. I wanted to use the whole wheat spaghetti I had in my pantry for a couple of months, but it's kind of a brittle pasta and has a slight bitter flavor to it, so I knew the sauce needed some punch to it. So I thought lots of herbs, garlic, and lemon would do the trick, and it definitely did. I didn't even notice that it was whole wheat. So it's kind of a combination of ideas I took from shrimp scampi (without the shrimp ...), aglio e olio, some creamy-lemony meal, and a health-freak meal:) (I say "health-freak" because of the whole wheat pasta and on they use spinach in basically every recipe! Must be a miracle pregnancy food)

Making it up as you go pasta
Serves 4

1 lb pasta (I used whole wheat spaghetti from Barilla)
olive oil
8 cloves of garlic, minced
3 T chopped fresh parsley
3 T chopped fresh cilantro
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 C ricotta cheese
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
3 C spinach leaves, loosely packed
salt & pepper to taste
parmesan cheese to serve
  1. Boil pasta to al dente. Reserve about 1/2 C pasta water, drain and set aside.
  2. In a large, deep skillet, cook garlic and about 1 t salt in about 3 T olive oil on medium-low heat until slightly browned and bubbly. Add red pepper flakes and cook a couple of minutes. Add lemon zest and spinach leaves. Bring heat up to Medium and cook until spinach is slightly wilted.
  3. Add cooked pasta, add about 2 more T olive oil and reserved pasta water 1 T at a time to loosen up the sauce. Add ricotta cheese and carefully stir into pasta until pasta is coated. Add cilantro, parsley, and lemon juice and toss until evenly distributed. Add salt and pepper to taste. (be careful tossing if you use whole wheat pasta because it tends to break a little more easily than normal pasta)
  4. Serve hot or cold with parmesan cheese on top.

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