Walnut, Ricotta & Lemon Pasta

Light, clean, simple and fresh. Tastes like a summer evening dinner in the backyard with a string of lights above you while having casual conversations with good friends. Phoebe thinks it tastes gourmet. I think it's deceivingly easy and fun to throw together.

It's been so long since I've last cooked a meal I've forgotten how alive it makes me feel; the vibrant lemon, the pungent and crispy garlic, the cool and smooth ricotta on my fingers, and then the combination of all the elements in my mouth...sensory overload!

Side note: Have you noticed a change in the photos? Ah, Instagram has changed my life. I'm not sure if it's for the better. For the record, none of the photos (before my FIRST dessert bar entry) have any filters nor are they photoshopped in any way. What do you think? I don't know...do you like it? I'm not sure either...

I haven't decided if I like photos in their "natural" state (er, well, as natural as it can get from a digital camera) or tinkered like the above. Only time will tell. In the meantime, enjoy the food. 
1/4 C olive oil
4 large garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
1/2 pound pasta
1 C spinach, cut into thin long strips OR fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves from 1 small bunch, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
1/4 C walnuts, toasted well and roughly chopped
1/2 C fresh ricotta cheese
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a small pan over low heat until simmering. Very thinly slice garlic (a mandoline would help if you have one...otherwise reading that will probably only get you coveting). Add to oil and cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is pale golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Don't turn the heat too high or overcook, or you'll get some pretty nasty bitter garlic chips. Turn off the heat and spoon the garlic chips into a small bowl, letting the excess oil drain back into the pan (reserve oil). 

When the pasta is ready, drain it and toss with enough garlic oil to coat lightly. Toss with the lemon, spinach/parsley, and walnuts. Dot with cheese, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently to combine, being careful not to fully incorporate the cheese. Garnish with more parsley leaves and serve with garlic chips.

Serves at least 2

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