I still remember the first time my family went to Italy. Maybe because it was just my parents and they went without me. Or maybe it was because I had just graduated high school and my parents left my sister and I alone. In a brand new house. In our minds it was a party house. I'm sure you can imagine the clean up involved in that one.
Either way, I learned something upon their arrival. No it wasn't humility that I learned after having to pick up the neighbor behind us' back yard. It was actually Italian cooking.
My whole life, I have been brought up in the me generation (although I was born the last year as a Gen-Xer) This generation is what is so prevalent now. Our culture about being influenced so easily by the media.
Because of this my thoughts about Italian cooking was red sauce and spaghetti. Okay, okay. Maybe some ravioli or hey! Let's throw in a cannoli or two in there. Never the less, I was clueless about true Italian cooking.
Once my parents arrived home and after all the asking about what Europe was like, they finally got to the food.
"Did you know that pasta is usually a first course (after antipasto of course)?"
"Really? No I didn't and no I didn't know that a meat entree would follow that."
I learned that day that well, I had a lot to learn. I was sheltered in terms of other cultures traditions in food growing up. Hence, thinking that Chef Boyardee was really a chef. Ha! Imagine that! (Okay, I am really kidding about that last part)
While this recipe would not be my choice as a first course (to be honest, who can finish off a plate of pasta and then keep moving on anyhow. Alright, ask me when I arrive back from Italy someday) it does make a perfect main course. Fresh, easy, fast and above all, it tips it's hat to the East all the way to Italy. So, until I have to chance to enjoy a trip of my own, I will be preparing this whenever the urge strikes. Enjoy!
8 oz. Spaghetti (or whichever Pasta you prefer)
2 Heads Garlic and 4 garlic cloves, pressed
3 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 Teaspoons Lemon Zest
2 Teaspoons Fresh Lemon Juice
1/8 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tablespoon Chopped Italian Parsley
4 Tablespoons Whole Milk Ricotta
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop the tips off of the heads of garlic and place in aluminum foil. Drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil. Fully close the foil and place the garlic in the oven for 45-50 minutes.
3. While the garlic is cooling from the oven, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add pasta. Cook for the amount of time the pasta calls for (roughly 9-10 minutes for al dente). Drain and reserve about 2-3 Tablespoons of the cooking liquid.
3. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once heated, add the pressed garlic and allow to cook until fragrant. About 30 seconds. Add the pasta, roasted garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, cooking liquid, red pepper flakes and toss. Season with salt to taste.
4. Transfer to plates or a serving platter, sprinkle with the parsley and top each serving with one tablespoon of ricotta cheese.