Friday, October 25, 2013

Creamy Lemon Spaghetti

Creamy Lemon Spaghetti

There are very few meals that everyone in my family will eat.  Taco night is always a hit because my daughter loves to eat soft whole wheat tortillas filled with cheese. Pizza can be hit or miss depending on the type and my kids' mood, and macaroni and cheese is usually safe, although the homemade version sometimes bothers my daughter.  But spaghetti, or more recently all pasta, is a favorite for everyone.  My picky daughter may not eat it with anything on top, not even butter, but still, I can make one meal, serve a few vegetables on the side and please everyone. 

When it comes to pasta, I believe simpler is better.  Some of my favorite dishes are nothing more than spaghetti, olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and basil, occasionally with some canned tuna thrown on top.  Super easy and nutritious.  My son has always liked lemons, and like me as a child, he even sucks on lemon wedges if I let him.  So I try to incorporate lemon flavored dishes on a regular basis and this one definitely fits the bill.  It has very basic ingredients, but a lot of flavor and can be made in about 30 minutes or less. Usually recipes for lemon cream sauce include at least a cup of heavy cream, or sour cream, but this recipe is considerably lighter.  Do not be afraid of the half and half (you could probably get away with whole milk as well) because without some fat or richness, the meal will not be as satisfying, leading you to want to eat more later.   It is great as a stand alone vegetarian dish, with some vegetables on the side, or served alongside a nice piece of grilled chicken or fish. 

Creamy Lemon Spaghetti
ingredients I used

1 pound whole grain organic spaghetti
2 T. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely diced (optional)
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1/2 C. organic half & half
1/2 C. plain Greek yogurt
1/2 C. organic lowfat cottage cheese, strained and pureed*
1 C. Parmesan cheese, divided in half
Salt & pepper

*could substitute ricotta cheese, silken tofu, more half & half or yogurt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.  Once the pasta has been cooking for about 5 minutes, add the lemon juice, a ladle of the cooking water from the pasta, the half and half, the Greek yogurt and the cottage cheese to the garlic and oil. Bring the sauce to a light simmer. Add the lemon zest and half of the cheese to the cream sauce, and season it with salt and pepper, if desired.  Add the cooked pasta into the pan and toss gently for a minute or two in order for the pasta to absorb some of the sauce. Serve with the remaining cheese for garnish.

sauteed garlic, onion and red pepper flakes

cream sauce

ready to serve

healthy side dish

can you tell I was hungry?
(couldn't finish it all)

my son's plate

my daughter's plate, served with a side of cheese

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