Spaghetti with Lemon and Toasted Walnuts

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My worst nightmare? The kids going to bed happy and early. Why? Because it’s too good to be true. Zonking out dazed and speaking tongues inevitably means that someone will be jarred awake with night terrors in two hours. And that they’ll be up at 4:00am ready to start the day. Let’s go! But I guess I’m willing to take that risk tonight because my husband and I would like one hour together. Without children. One wondrous hour watching Star Trek Deep Space Nine so we can mock the overacting and the spectacularly absurd plot twists. Like Major Kira having O’Brien’s baby because it got zapped from Keiko’s body in some interstellar battle. Whatever.

Tonight we enjoyed this cold zesty zippy pasta dish with whole wheat spaghetti, spicy fresh chopped garlic and a fresh lemon, parsley olive oil marinade. It comes from Vegetarian Times and could easily be made vegan without the Parmesan cheese. This dish paired with a side salad will last us the work week and only cost about $10 – not bad for a healthy dish that even my 4 year old enjoyed!

SPAGHETTI WITH LEMON AND TOASTED WALNUTS
1 cup walnut halves
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tsp. grated organic lemon zest
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. spaghetti
1 cup Italian parsley, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast walnuts on baking sheet 10 minutes. Cool, and coarsely chop. Whisk together cheese, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, and pepper in large bowl. Cook pasta according to package directions. Add drained pasta to cheese mixture, and toss to combine. Stir in parsley and walnuts, and season with salt and more pepper.

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Caprese Pasta, for Stress Eating

capreseLately my husband and I have had just one too many sleepless nights. Our new neighbor – let’s just say his name rhymes with “Keff”, but starts with the letter directly before K – watches some Steven Seagal crap movie through his $6,000 surround sound system at precisely the moment my infant falls asleep. Moments later we realize the toddler is still up in bed deliriously searching for juice “WITH ICE CUBES” and then just a few hazy hours later the infant is joyfully up for the day.

So after a few too many of these disgruntled mornings counting on two hands the number of date nights my husband and I have actually shared in the last three years, I am reminded of a very lovely date night we shared on New Years Eve last year cooking one of my favorite comfort foods. It’s best served at room temperature, and is even better the next day!

CAPRESE PASTA
1 box penne pasta
3 cups diced vine ripe tomatoes
1 cup chopped fresh basil
2 cloves diced fresh garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 package of buffalo mozzarella
3 zucchinis sliced into 1/4” rounds
1 cup walnuts

In a large bowl toss the diced tomatoes, chopped garlic, chopped basil, walnuts, and olive oil. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Cook the pasta 10 minutes (pasta is always better al dente!) While the pasta cooks, pan fry the zucchini rounds in olive oil or cooking spray about 3 minutes per side. When the pasta is done, run it under cold water in the colander to cool. Then toss into the tomato mixture. Top the pasta with the fried zucchini and then roughly tear the buffalo mozzarella on top.