Stephen and I are tired. Really tired. Almost all the time these days. He’s working on a ginormous job—it’s a wonderful thing, a prestigious project, a plum position to have on his resume—that keeps him at work until at least 7 every night. I’m working on, oh, eight or nine different writing projects, and when I’m not writing, I’m hanging with Harry. Who’s tiring in his own right; dude is a toddler, for sure. Our family dinners happen on weekends only now, and since Harry no longer naps I usually don’t have a chance to prep dinner until he’s in bed. I know, shocking! Here I am writing about how to get dinner on the table while you’ve got a youngun underfoot, and I’m not doing a very good job of it myself. My solution: Super-quick suppers.
Last night we had a sauté of zucchini, corn, and grape tomatoes, cooked just until the tomatoes burst, then showered with herbs. I started that one while Stephen read Harry his bedtime stories, and we ate about fifteen minutes after turning out junior’s lights. And the other night, after flirting with the idea of dumping some jarred sauce on pasta (hey, it’s in The New Mom’s Pantry for a reason!), I decided it was just as easy to make a fast garlic and oil sauce. Stephen suggested some toasted breadcrumbs, for contrast, and I was off and running. A little lemon, a little parmesan, some parsley, and whaddya know? It’s a fantastic little dinner! The brightness of the lemon makes this more than just a bowl of pasta and garlic (which I admit is, in itself, quite a satisfying meal).
This takes about as long as it takes to make angel hair pasta. You do know that angel hair is the fastest-cooking dried pasta, right? Yup, this is ready that fast.
Angel Hair with Garlic and Lemon-Parmesan Breadcrumbs
8 ounces angel hair pasta [I use Barilla Plus]
¼ cup olive oil, divided
¼ cup dried bread crumbs
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, divided
salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
3 large or 5 small cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. While that’s heating up, mince the garlic, zest the lemon, and chop the parsley.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the breadcrumbs are the color of wet sand. Add the lemon zest, 1 tablespoon parsley, and salt & pepper, and cook for just another minute—you don’t want those crumbs to burn. Sprinkle the parmesan over the mixture, remove from heat, and stir. The cheese will melt a bit and form some clumps—this is perfectly fine and ridiculously tasty. Set breadcrumbs aside and wipe out the pan. Try not to eat them all while you do the next steps.
By now your water is probably boiling—if it is, add the pasta. If it isn’t, wait until the pasta’s bubbling away before proceeding. Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat and add the remaining oil. When it shimmers, add the garlic. Sauté, stirring frequently, until lightly golden—you don’t want the garlic to burn. Scoop out about a cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside. When pasta is ready, drain and return to pot. Dump the garlic and oil into the pot, along with the lemon juice. Stir—if it seems dry, add as much of the reserved cooking water as you need. The sauce will be quite light.
Serve in big bowls. Sprinkle half the breadcrumb mixture and half the reserved parsley over each bowl, and serve with additional parmesan cheese.