I am going to warn you now that most of my posts (for the time being) will be single-servings of things, me being a college student and all. But, today, this post is dinner for TWO, oOooooOooh! Maybe not something you would wanna make on a first date, though–unless the smell of garlic is something you & your date bond over…
This is my favorite pasta dish to make, because it is so easy and SO good. That’s why it’s called the “go-to” pasta dish, because one of my best friends and I make this when we want something instantly and something guaranteed to be delicious. (Another reason I will not be making this for a date is because any manners I may possess immediately go out the window as I stuff this in my face). So maybe it’s not “romantic evening” food, but it could definitely be a “girl’s night” food or a “dude let’s cook something” food, because it really is too good to not share. Thus the “for two”! Or four. Or tomorrow’s lunch.
It’s also good any time of the year, if you ask me, because of its ingredients. The roasted-garlic overtones and the slight heat from the red pepper flakes are reminiscent of cozy winter months by the fire, whereas the tang from the cream cheese and the finish of lemon zest brightens it up like summer. All together, it creates a dish that is savory, rich, and satisfyingly different from your classic red sauce. PLUS, aside from a fresh lemon, possibly, I imagine that you already have the ingredients for it in your kitchen.
So let’s make it!
Garlic-Cream Cheese “Go To” Pasta Dish
Yield: 2 servings
2 T. Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes (adjust to your liking of heat)
2 servings of uncooked pasta of your choice
3 oz. cream cheese (I much prefer the “neufchatel” cheese that is advertised as “1/3 Less Fat!” because it has more flavor)
Zest of Half a Lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste, salt for pasta water.
Fill a pot with water and set on stove to boil. Salt the water generously–it should taste like the ocean (minus the algae, teehee). Cook pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat the oil on a medium-low setting. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and the red pepper flakes and let sizzle for a few minutes to soften the garlic and infuse the oil. If the garlic is frying too violently, turn down the heat–you don’t want the garlic to brown (but a deep gold color is fine).
When the pasta is cooked, strain it and place it immediately back into the pot off the heat. Add the cream cheese and stir so the heat left from the pasta melts it. Next add the infused oil mixture, toss to coat. Finally, mix in the lemon zest, and add salt and pepper to taste (my ‘taste’ is a LOT of fresh-cracked black pepper).
Serve with extra lemon zest if desired, and proceed to enjoy!