By Lisa

This, a few tablespoons of butter, a pack of spaghetti gets you dinner for 4.

I had a tabula rasa moment on Tuesday night.  Dinner needed to be on the table quickly, but I nothing ready to cook. I had planned on making something a little more complicated, but we had been a long time picking up our kitten at the vet, and it was too late for the original plan.  We had just had the omelete so eggs were out of rotation.  We had also just finished a pot of black beans with quesidillas, so tacos were out, too.   I had no cream for Fettucine Alfredo, didn’t want just cheese and butter on pasta, had no bacon defrosted for a quick carbonara, and had seasonal fatigue for the tomato/black bean saffron thing.   I wasn’t even sure I had time to boil pasta water before the kids detonated, so tomato sauce was out of the question, but it did seem pasta was my only option.  Also? I had very little milk left.  Then I had a one of those inspired moments, and decided I could make a quick variation on this Winter Citrus Pasta that was ready in the time it took to boil water.

I had prepped some green chard earlier in the day (which I very often do)–smashing the garlic, tossing it in a pan with olive oil, washing and chopping the chard, sprinkling it with salt, and covering it up with a lid. At dinner time, I just turn on the burner and sautee.  5 minutes to food rather than 10. Less mess to clean up, too.  I put the water on to boil, sauteed the chard, whipped up a couple of tomato surprises, plopped a few carrots into bowls and sat the kids at the counter to work on their rainbow vegetable appetizer and a small slice of fresh italian bread.

Of course, they watched while I cooked the pasta, which was risky, since it was new to them. Lemon in pasta? Have we had this before? Yes, and no. They were slightly crestfallen but didn’t protest too much.  Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to give the kids brand new things at the last minute on a school night, but I forged ahead bravely.    The result was a big hit, and Finn even remembered that he had eaten something like it before. It’s a rich and creamy dish, with a nice zing of lemon flavor.  A perfect–& fast–fall dish.

Lemon Citrus Spaghetti

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 lemon (zest only)
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2-3/4 cup grated cheese
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
  2. While waiting for the water to boil, pour the milk and butter into a saucepan large enough to contain the cooked spaghetti. Zest the lemon into the milk/butter.  Turn on the heat and melt the butter, simmer until the mixture blends and slightly thickens, 3 minutes or so. Turn off heat.
  3. In the mixing cup you used for the milk, beat the egg and set aside.
  4. When the water boils, cook the pasta until al dente, about 9 minutes.
  5. Drain pasta and add it to the milk/butter/zest in the pan. On low heat, quickly stir in the beaten egg, then the cheese. Serve immediately.