Fettuccine with Walnuts, Lemon and Herbs

Pasta with Walnuts, Lemon and Herbs // Notwithoutsalt.com Pasta with Walnuts, Lemon and Herbs // Notwithoutsalt.com

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 // Notwithoutsalt.com Pasta with Walnuts, Lemon and Herbs // Notwithoutsalt.com

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 // Notwithoutsalt.com

 

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

salt

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.

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Homemade Candy Cane Joe Joe’s

Homemade Candy Cane Joe Joe's // Notwithoutsalt.com

As a child I’d lay in bed listening to the murmurs and fluttered activity that happened just outside of my bedroom door. I listened for evidence of what I feared the most; that my parents stayed up late, partying and eating ice cream and cookies while I was in bed. Vivid scenes played in my head of my parents on the couch congratulating themselves on finally getting us to sleep, high fives were exchanged while one flipped on the tv and the other ran to the kitchen to fetch the late-night party food.

Now I’m on the other side of the bedroom door and realizing that my fears as a child were completely warranted because in our house we totally party when the kidlets are sleeping. There aren’t streamers and party hats and sometimes the party ends with me asleep on the couch by 9:30 but there are often marathon sessions of The West Wing and currently there are cookies.

To fuel these late night parties, in a moment of genius or weakness, it’s hard to decide which sometimes, I grabbed a box of Chocolate Covered Candy Cane Joe Joe’s at Trader Joe’s. For the next few nights after that I’d tiptoe to the cupboard grab a cookie from the box. Slowly I’d nibble away at the cookie wondering why I’d only grabbed one box and why isn’t Jed Bartlet a real presidential candidate?

Before you start thinking that I’m completely heartless and I don’t share my cookies with my poor children let me assure you that they were the reason I thought to make these cookies ourselves. Well, that and my box was almost out.

Homemade Candy Cane Joe Joe's // Notwithoutsalt.com Homemade Candy Cane Joe Joe's // Notwithoutsalt.com Homemade Candy Cane Joe Joe's // Notwithoutsalt.com

I used Deb’s recipe for Homemade Oreos (which is actually her version of Wayne Brachman’s recipe from Retro Desserts) as my starting point. I should actually say, WE because my boys nearly made these cookies themselves. They were particularly helpful when it came time to roll the dough into dozens of gumball sized balls. They also thoroughly enjoyed smashing candy canes into thousands of tiny pieces.

The recipe calls for shortening in the filling and I had Gabe pick some up on his way home because although I never use the stuff otherwise but I craved a very accurate rendition and nothing gives that same odd yet comforting mouthfeel like shortening. If you prefer, skip the shortening and use all butter. That is perfectly acceptable.

I took these cookies one step further and dipped them in bittersweet chocolate and topped them with a bit of salt which tips the scale from too sweet to just right. If you aren’t a fan of peppermint feel free to leave that out, if you’re a super fan feel free to add more.

No longer hidden in the cupboards and hoarded for our late night parents-only parties, these cookies are now the star of our 2015 holiday cookie plate.

Homemade Candy Cane Joe Joe's // Notwithoutsalt.com Homemade Candy Cane Joe Joe's // Notwithoutsalt.com

Homemade Candy Cane Joe Joe's

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes approximately 2 dozen sandwich cookies

 

Cookies:

1 1/4 cups/155 grams all-purpose flour

1/2 cup /45 grams unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup /200 grams sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks or 140 grams) room-temperature, unsalted butter

1 large egg

 

Filling:

1/4 cup /1/2 stick / 55 grams room-temperature, unsalted butter

1/4 cup /50 grams vegetable shortening (or use an additional 1/2 cup butter)

2 cups /240 grams confectioners’ sugar

pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

1/2 cup crushed candy canes

 

Chocolate dip:

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate

1 teaspoon coconut oil

flake salt

 

For the cookie: Preheat your oven to 375°F and line two sheet trays with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or you can mix this with an electric mixer or by hand) combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix just to combine. Add the butter and egg and mix on low until a stiff dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure everything is well mixed.

Roll the dough into teaspoon sized balls and leave about two inches of space between each ball. Flatten each cookie slightly just before baking.

Bake for 9-10 minutes, until crackly on top and just set. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets.

For the filling: While the cookies cool combine the butter, shortening (if using), confectioners’ sugar, salt, and extracts in the bowl of a mixer. Begin mixing on low until the sugar is incorporated then increase the speed to medium high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Decrease the speed to low before adding in the candy canes.

Spread about 1 teaspoon of the filling (you can pipe it in if you want it to look real nice, just like the real thing) on half of the cookies then top with the other half.

For the dip: Melt the chocolate with the coconut oil over a double boiler or in 20 second increments in the microwave, stirring well after each heating. Using a fork, dip the cookies into the chocolate then set on a parchment lined sheet tray. Top with a few flakes of salt and then set the tray in the refrigerator until the chocolate is firm, about 10 minutes.

Well covered, the cookies will keep for up to 1 week.

 

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