Lemon Garlic Pasta

I THINK spring is actually here…we still may have some chilly days ahead of us here in the Upper Midwest, but my rhubarb is peeking up, asparagus is venturing forth, and I’ve worn shorts. (Although the shorts thing isn’t very indicative of the weather, since I’m hugely pregnant and am throwing off heat like a furnace.)

One of my favorite spring pasta dishes is The Pioneer Woman’s Baked Lemon Pasta. Her recipe is delicious as is, but for various reasons I’ve adapted it a bit to save some time and use ingredients I have on hand. It is seriously lemony, and seriously garlicky – a fabulous combination in my opinion. And except for the fresh parsley, I almost always have everything on hand. (Give me a few weeks though, as I will be growing parsley in my garden this year.)

Lemon Garlic Pasta, adapted from the Pioneer Woman’s Baked Lemon Pasta

1 lb pasta
4 T salted butter
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice from one lemon
zest from one lemon
2 cups plain yogurt (Greek, or strained regular yogurt)
salt to taste
grated parmesan for serving
chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for serving

1) Cook 1 lb pasta in salted water until al dente. I used a lovely shaped pasta I hadn’t seen before – mafalda. It was about an inch long and a quarter inch wide with ruffled edges – and it was at the grocery store.

2) Melt butter in large skillet, add olive oil.

3) Add garlic and lemon juice. Stop and inhale the insanely delicious smell coming from your skillet. If you wanted to stop here, brush this concoction on some rustic Italian bread, and then toast it, you would still be in great shape. Or, just dip some bread straight into the pan and enjoy before getting on with the recipe.

4) Remove from heat, add in yogurt, lemon zest and salt. Whisk until smooth.

5) Serve with parmesan cheese and parsley. If you have any juice left in your lemon, give each dish an extra squeeze.

Note on yogurt: Greek yogurt works great, but if you only have the regular stuff, try to think a bit ahead and line a fine-meshed sieve with cheesecloth, a thin/clean kitchen towel, or a few layers of a thick paper towel. Place sieve over a bowl, and place about 2 1/4 cups yogurt in sieve. Let sit in fridge for a few hours to let the whey drain out and thicken up your yogurt. In a pinch, just use it from the tub, but your sauce may be a bit thin and not as smooth. The original recipe uses sour cream, but I like the tanginess of yogurt with the lemons.