We’re fortunate to have access to some great fresh pasta (when we don’t have time to make our own). Santa Cruz Pasta Factory makes a vegan version that works for my egg-free husband. This dish is a marriage of fresh spinach and lemon — two more devoted culinary partners you’ll never meet. The secret ingredient here is the lemon zest. The tiny bits (almost invisible to the eye) add surprising pops of zippy lemon flavor that balances with the soft, neutral ricotta. If you can’t find fresh ricotta (not the supermarket variety) substitute goat cheese or Parmesan. Just about any green you have on hand will work here, just adjust the cooking time accordingly (spinach is a fast sauté).
- 1 large handful shelled walnuts
- 12 ounces fresh pappardelle or other long noodles
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- One bunch spinach, rinsed and stems removed, roughly chopped if leaves are large
- Zest and juice of one lemon (separated)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2/3 cup fresh ricotta
- Toast the walnuts in a small dry skillet over medium heat. Stir and watch carefully to prevent burning. When nuts are fragrant and begin to brown, remove from heat and cool. Roughly chop.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain in a colander (reserving 1/2 cup pasta water).
- Meanwhile heat a large skillet over medium heat, and add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Add garlic and red pepper and sauté for 15 seconds. Add spinach and cook until just wilted.
- Add drained pasta to the pan along with reserved pasta water, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice (to taste), lemon zest, nuts, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Toss ingredients together in the pan to combine. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Top with dots of ricotta. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil over each serving, if desired.