When you're bored of your standby quick-and-easy dinners and are looking for something new to shake up your pasta routine, try this lemony spaghetti dish.
Creamy ricotta, lemon zest, toasted breadcrumbs and fresh peas will raise the bar on dinner!
Spring onions are simply onions that are pulled in the spring to thin out onion beds. Don't confuse sweet spring onions with scallions or "green onions" – true spring onions are sweeter and more tender than either.
Look for spring onions at farmers markets this time of year. They'll look like large scallions with thick stalks and bulbs that are two to three inches across. The tough outer leaves should be removed before cooking, but don’t throw them out. Tuck them into the freezer for stock.
This recipe can be accomplished quickly if you get comfortable with a little multi-tasking during your dinner prep.
First, take the time to prep the ingredients before you start cooking: grate the lemon zest, squeeze the juice, slice the onions, chop the parsley, measure the peas and stock, and set the dry pasta next to the stove. Now you're ready to roll.
Next, while you're waiting for the water to boil, stir the ricotta with a hefty dose of lemon and toast the breadcrumbs -- three steps all accomplished at once! Throw the spaghetti into the boiling water, and while it is cooking, sauté the onions and add the peas, and stock.
When your spaghetti is done, do like the Italians do and mix the spaghetti in with the sauce of onions and peas directly in the skillet. Transfer to bowls, top with the ricotta, breadcrumbs and parsley, and you're done.
At the table, each person gets to mix the ingredients together in his or her bowl. Don't expect to hear too much conversation as the first few bites go down!
Lemony Spaghetti With Peas and Ricotta
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup good quality fresh ricotta
- 2 heaping tablespoons finely grated lemon zest, divided
- 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 3/4 pound dry spaghetti
- 1 large or 3 small spring onion bulbs, tough outer layers removed and the rest halved and thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen green peas
- 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Begin heating the water for the pasta:
Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil while you proceed with the recipe.
2 Toast the Panko breadcrumbs: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the Panko, and stir constantly for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl, and set aside. Wipe the skillet clean.
Make the lemon ricotta:
In another small bowl, stir the ricotta, 1 heaping tablespoon of the lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice together (save the rest). Add salt and pepper to taste.
Cook the spaghetti:
Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and set your timer for 2 minutes less than the recommended time (this is so you can be assured that you are cooking the pasta al dente).
Cook the spaghetti uncovered in vigorously boiling water. When done, it should be cooked, but still firm in the middle. Scoop out 1/2 cup of the pasta water for the sauce, and drain in a colander.
Cook the spring onions and peas:
While the pasta cooks, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in the same large skillet used to toast the breadcrumbs. Add the spring onions, and cook, stirring often, for 6 to 7 minutes, or until they are soft and translucent.
Add the remaining 3 tablespoons lemon juice, the remaining 1 tablespoons lemon zest, the chicken stock and the peas. Cook, stirring often for 1 to 2 minutes or until the peas are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Combine the spaghetti with the peas:
Reduce the heat to low. With tongs, transfer the cooked spaghetti and 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the skillet. Toss until hot, adding more pasta water if necessary until the pasta is coated with sauce. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if you like.
Serve the pasta:
Divide the spaghetti among four pasta bowls. Dollop spoonfuls of the ricotta over the pasta, and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and parsley.