Pasta with Walnuts, Lemon and Herbs // Pasta with Walnuts, Lemon and Herbs //

I love a fresh start, a clean slate with nothing except hope and anticipation. I relish the opportunity to be intentional with that fresh start and jump into it with an open mind and endless possibilities. This year, though, I didn’t feel the need to flood my journal with lofty goals and courageous achievements but rather to simply focus on well, the simple.

Let me rephrase that. It’s not that what I want is simple in the sense that it’s easy. I mean I have three kids, there’s nothing easy about that, my everyday life is not necessarily simple but I don’t help matters by overcomplicating them either.

A few days into the new year I ran across some advice given to writer Jen Hatmaker by her agent. He told her that if it’s not a HELL YES, then it’s a no. Simple as that.

Since bumping into those words they have become my filter. It helps if you share this revelation with a spouse and/or good friend so they can remind you when you inevitably forget. But when I do remember and put those words into practice I make decisions that give me life rather than leave me drained and sluggishly walking through my days. 

Pasta with Walnuts, Lemon and Herbs // Pasta with Walnuts, Lemon and Herbs //

Of course it’s more complicated then living life with every hell yes because if I was real honest today’s hell yes would be chocolate cake, the couch and Netflix. All day. But when used with the little whisper of the responsible adult that lives somewhere deep inside me then those words help make the decisions that are truly tied to my purpose. In theory it’s simple, in practice not so much but what I’m finding is the more no’s I say to the things that don’t ignite a fire within me or don’t get me fluttery with delight, the easier it becomes.

Since we’re on the subject of simplicity I thought I’d share recipe for a pasta dish that is the sort of that gave me pause at the start because I feared that it was perhaps too simple. My original intent was to give you all a salad because it’s January and that’s what one does in January. But we’ll save the salad for another time because today I’m saying HELL YES to this pasta.

All fears of its over-simplicity lost its credibility while twirling the fork, wrapping noodles around its prongs, as I caught wisps of rosemary, whose woody pine scent reeks of winter. There’s texture and heft from walnuts – here deeply toasted almost to the point of bitterness, and shavings of Parmesan, sort of thick and clunky so you don’t lose them to the heat of the pasta. And let’s not underestimate the lemon here which first perfumes the butter with its zest and then brightens the whole dish with its zippy juice at the end.

Simplicity wins, every time.

I can’t wait to see what a year of hell yes’s look like. I hope you’re excited too.

Pasta with Walnuts, Lemon and Herbs //



Fettuccine with Walnuts, Lemon and Herbs

Serves 6 to 8

This recipe was adapted from the gorgeous (and genius) book, Plenty More. The original recipe calls for 1/3 cup sage (also, I changed the quantities around a bit to suit our family) but I was craving the woody and pine scented pop of rosemary. Feel free to use whatever you happen to crave – or have on hand.


1 pound fettuccine


4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup roughly chopped deeply toasted walnuts

1 cup roughly chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 1/2 cups Parmesan shavings


Cook the fettuccine noodles in water that tastes of the sea until al dente, about 8 minutes or so.

While the pasta cooks add the butter to a large skillet, once melted add the rosemary and lemon zest and cook over medium heat until the kitchen is perfumed with the scent, about one minute. Stir in the cream and a hefty pinch of salt then turn off the heat while you wait for the pasta to cook.

Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the pasta water to use as needed.

Toss the pasta into the skillet with the perfumed cream and use tongs to move the noodles around until they are all covered. If the sauce feels a bit stiff add a few tablespoons of the pasta water to thin it out. Finish with the walnuts, parsley, Parmesan and lemon juice. I like to reserve a bit of the parsley and Parmesan to add to the top of the serving bowl. Taste and adjust the salt as needed.

Transfer the pasta to a serving dish and add the reserved parsley and Parmesan.

Serve immediately.

33 Responses to “Fettuccine with Walnuts, Lemon and Herbs”

  1. Katrina

    This looks wonderfully simple! And I’m with you – keeping things simple is the best. Sign me up for a big plate of this!

  2. Sarah

    Ashley, I happened on that article last week as well, and quite by accident too as some of my girlfriends on Facebook follow Hatmaker, so I decided to check her out. Her words certainly have good timing and I love the concept of really paying attention to the things in this life which move us to take action. Wishing you success this year as you endeavor to simplify. And thank you for the sharing this lovely dish. Saturday night dinner plans here I come. -Sarah (@ohsarahmt)

  3. Kate

    Love this post and here’s to many a HELL YES! in 2016. Also pasta over salad = best decision for cold January days 🙂 x

  4. Jen Pack

    This look so good that I’ll probably have to make it tonight! I love that the ingredients are so simple. All I’ll have to buy is some fresh rosemary. Thanks for sharing this comfort food recipe!

  5. CraftyHope

    That inner responsible adult kills the fun every dang day! Sometimes I hate her. . .and sometimes I really need her. And, now I want chocolate cake. Oh, and hell yes to this dish and the simplicity of it. Yum!

  6. cheri

    Hi Ashley, love your blog, so nice to see you writing again. Love Plenty More, such a great book. Your dish and photos look amazing! Take care.

  7. MB @ Bourbon and Brown Sugar

    Wow… the pasta is simply gorgeous, and love the “hell yes” advice. Wonderful post, Ashley… and can I tell you I turn to your cook book all the time – we are crushing on your peanut butter brownies at the moment 🙂

  8. Brittany

    Thank you for the recipe! We made this to celebrate the snow day here in Washington D.C. It was perfect with homemade pasta!

  9. leonie

    There’s a place in New Zealand that makes the most AMAZING lemon quark so I’ve been using that instead of the cream. And, there’s an Italian pasta we can buy here that is made with extra eggs and has a real lemony flavour so we use that too. It’s currently one of our favourite recipes.

  10. Kelli

    I absolutely have jumped onto this “hell, yes!” bandwagon! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m finding it the best way to make a decision.

  11. Crys Brown

    I just made this with a few minor tweaks (browned the butter, used sage) and it was unreal. I usually like heavier sauces and I was worried, as you mentioned about oversimplicity. I would make this for company. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Susan Murphy

    loved the pasta my husband saw it and we went to market and got all we needed to try. well it will now be made at least once every 2 to 3 weeks. We love pasta and we get it made for us by an Italian gentleman, so we like to make different and new sauce instead of the same old thing. thank you for a great sauce.


  13. Susan Murphy

    loved the pasta my husband saw it and we went to market and got all we needed to try. well it will now be made at least once every 2 to 3 weeks. We love pasta and we get it made for us by an Italian gentleman, so we like to make different and new sauce instead of the same old thing.
    thank you for a great sauce.


  14. Akhil Shah

    Hell yes is right!! This looks phenomenal. I’ve been scared of trying other pastas besides penne because I end up breaking them during the boiling step (happened to me with Lasagna)! Thanks for making this recipe super approachable, and I love your storytelling with the recipes, keep it up 🙂

  15. Olga

    This was delicious and very quick to make. I used sage instead of rosemary and pecans instead of walnuts. The nuts seemed like they didn’t go with the dish and I was going to skip them, but I’m glad I didn’t because they took the pasta to the next level. Approved by a 3 year old and a ten month old who kept opening his mouth for more pasta, I had to cut him off after a while because I was worried that it might be too much for his little stomach. Will definitely make it again.


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