Remember my first blog post when I said that I have variations on garlic pasta? The version I am sharing today is Eric’s personal favorite. So much so that he generally begs me to make this variation of garlic pasta any time he knows it’s on the week’s menu. It’s a simple dish, and it’s light but still savory and delicious. The sauce is a simple base of olive oil and garlic, with cherry tomatoes and a Parmesan rind added to the mix. The tomatoes start to blister in the pan and release some of their juices while the Parmesan rind melts down and adds a salty, silky touch to the sauce. Fresh spinach and lemon zest are thrown in at the end and it’s all tossed with the hot linguine and some pasta water to bring it all together. Topped with fresh parsley and more Parm…Yum!
I came up with this recipe one of the first times I went to visit Eric at USC. We did long distance all throughout college and whenever I would visit him in the dorms, we had limited resources. I quickly grew tired of dining hall options. I wanted something cheap, clean, and easy to make in a tiny communal dorm kitchen. Freshman Eric was skeptical of tomatoes, and this is the dish that totally changed his mind. I have already discussed this in other posts, but I shall reiterate: blistered tomatoes are the bomb. They become sweet little jewels and they totally change the texture and taste of boring old tomatoes. I particularly love this dish because while the tomatoes are cooking in the olive oil, I take a spoon and smash some of them just to get that extra sweetness into the sauce. I also love the final touch of lemon zest, which might seem a little strange with the other ingredients but it really brightens up the dish and makes it taste so clean and fresh.
If you don’t have a Parmesan rind on hand, that’s fine. Personally I store them in the freezer because we go through a lot of Parmesan. The rinds are super handy to throw into soups and pasta sauces. If you haven’t been saving your rinds, you don’t know what you are missing!
If you’re a meat eater and you want something heartier for this meal, you could easily serve it alongside some chicken. Personally, I think this pasta makes for the perfect light dinner or lunch. It’s even better leftover!
1 lb linguine pasta
7 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Parmesan rind (optional)
1 pt cherry tomatoes
1 (6 oz) package fresh spinach
Zest of one lemon
Fresh Parmesan and Italian Parsley, to go on top
- Cook the linguine in heavily salted water until al dente. It is ideal to use tongs to transfer the noodles directly into the sauce, so you will want to have the sauce ready by the time the pasta is cooked.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a deep pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook until softened and fragrant, around 3 minutes. Add in the cherry tomatoes and Parmesan rind and turn the heat up to medium-high. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Gently shake the pan throughout cooking and allow the tomatoes to blister and sweeten, around 8-10 minutes. Add in the spinach and lemon zest and stir until slightly wilted. Remove whatever is left of the Parmesan rind.
- Directly transfer the pasta from the pot to the pan with the sauce (If you are unable to do this, simply drain the pasta and quickly add it to the sauce pan). Add in a splash of pasta water and stir everything to combine.
- Top each plate of pasta with a healthy sprinkling of fresh Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped Italian parsley.