This pasta with toasted walnuts is an easy weeknight supper, and also doubles as a deceptively elegant dinner party item. Keep in mind that almost any seasonal vegetable can be substituted.
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- Approximately half a bag fresh baby spinach leaves (about 5 ounces)
- 2 teaspoons minced or crushed garlic (about 2 good-sized cloves)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more for the pasta cooking water)
- Red pepper flakes (plus extra to pass at the table)
- 3/4 pound whole grain linguine
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra to pass at the table)
- 1 cup California walnuts, toasted
- 1/2 pound (or more) fresh sugar snap peas, trimmed, and cut in half crosswise
- Put up a large pot of cold water to boil over high heat and add a tablespoon of salt. Place a large colander in the sink.
- While you wait for the water to boil, tear the spinach into large, bite-sized pieces (this pretty much means just tearing them in half, since they're already small) into a large bowl. Pour the olive oil over the spinach, then sprinkle in the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a big pinch of red pepper flakes. Use tongs or a long-handled fork to mix, and set aside.
- When the water boils, add the linguine, keeping the heat high. Cook for the amount of time recommended on the package, checking it toward the end of the suggested time, to be sure it is not getting overcooked. When the linguine is just tender enough to bite into comfortably, but not yet mushy, dump the water-plus-pasta into the colander. Shake to mostly drain (it's okay to leave some water clinging) then transfer it to the bowl with the spinach mixture, mixing it in with the tongs or the fork as you go, aiming for getting all the pasta coated with olive oil. The spinach will wilt upon contact with the hot pasta.
- Immediately sprinkle in the Parmesan and toss well, so the cheese will distribute itself, melting nicely in the process. Add in the walnuts and the peas, mixing very gently so you don't break the peas. (Really, just shake the bowl a few times, and they'll mix themselves in.)
- Serve hot, warm or at room temperature, passing extra Parmesan and red pepper flakes for individual applications.