Spring is one of my favorite times of year. Don’t get me wrong, I love fall too, but there is something about spring that always turns my mood around. The days are finally longer, which I swear makes me more productive, the sun seems brighter, and the flowers are blooming everywhere. Things just look so much more alive. Plus after winters that seem to last forever in this area, any day with a temperature over sixty degrees makes me crazy excited.
So this weekend, Andrew (the H) and I hiked the Saunders-Monticello trail in Charlottesville, a 2 mile trail that winds around the side of Carter’s Mountain and leads you directly to Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Monticello. The last time that either of us had visited Monticello was on each of our eighth grade trips to Washington, D.C. Sadly, I don’t remember much…I mean I did come back with a UVA t-shirt but that is about as far as my memories go. The weather was absolutely perfect this past Saturday and since we have been horrible Cville tourists, it seemed like the perfect time to hike the short trail and splurge for the grand tour of Monticello. Thanks A!
After a productive afternoon of hiking and sightseeing, something light and comforting was in order for dinner. This lemon spaghetti is one of my go to pasta dishes. It’s bright and flavorful with the addition of red pepper flakes and slow roasted tomatoes, but most importantly, it comes together in the amount of time it takes to boil water and cook the pasta. In the spring, I use meyer lemons but if these are hard to find (or out of season), then use regular lemons. Just dial back the lemon-y flavor to 1/2 cup (especially if you are looking for subtle lemon flavor; lemon lovers, keep it as is!)
What did you make this weekend?
Note: If you don’t have time to slow roast tomatoes, you can easily roast them which takes only 15 or 20 minutes. Cut cherry tomatoes in half or if using grape tomatoes, you can leave whole. Toss with a small amount of olive oil (only enough to make the tomatoes glisten) and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven until blistered and some tomatoes have popped, approximately 15 or 20 minutes.
Lemon Spaghetti with Slow Roasted Tomatoes
Inspired by Giada DeLaurentiis
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2/3 cup fresh meyer lemon juice (or juice from a regular lemon if meyer is not available)
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup basil, minced
1 cup slow roasted tomatoes (or roasted tomatoes, see above)
Place red pepper flakes and garlic in a bowl. Gently heat olive oil until warm. Pour over red pepper flakes and garlic and let steep for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Boil a large pot of water. Season very generously with salt. Cook pasta until tender but still a little firm to the bite, about 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
Add lemon juice to garlic-pepper oil and whisk to combine. Toss with hot pasta, parmesan cheese, and basil. Add pasta water 1/4 cup at a time to moisten. Add slow roasted tomatoes and toss gently. Garnish with lemon zest, parmesan cheese, and basil. Enjoy!