My favourite thing about the autumn is the food - although to be honest, my favourite thing about most things is the food. As the days begin to get colder and 9pm no longer occurs in complete daylight, I find myself (perhaps slightly prematurely) craving comfort food: soups, stews and big (very big) bowls of pasta. The ingredients in this recipe are simple - brown butter, walnuts, lemon, garlic, olive oil - but they combine to make a dish that warms the soul. It’s a good job that autumn is also the season for big fluffy jumpers that hide just how much of this pasta I’ve been eating.
This meal comes together in about fifteen minutes, so it’s perfect for those days when you can barely bring yourself to leave the warmth of your sofa (I was going to say ‘bed’ but I think it might just be me who spends all evening under a duvet). It makes the perfect quick lunch or easy weeknight dinner. All you need to do is brown off some butter and use it to cook the nuts and garlic until beautifully fragrant, then add al dente pasta and some olive oil and lemon juice.
The walnuts and garlic give a rich, earthy flavour, and the lemon juice and olive oil freshen up the dish and provide the tasty dressing. If you’re not one for following recipes to the letter, it’s easily adaptable - I scattered over some peppery rocket to complement the lemon flavour (it’s one of my favourite combinations), but you could equally add some sautéed mushrooms or spinach. Don’t forget to finish with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese (make sure that if you’re a vegetarian, you get a veggie version).
I use a lot of nuts in my cooking at this time of year - they’re a great way for a vegetarian like myself to get an extra hit of protein and healthy fats, and somehow I find that they just taste perfectly autumnal, especially walnuts. The crunch also helps a meal to feel a bit more substantial, and makes a change from pure vegetables.
So whether you’re vegetarian or not, you should go ahead and make this lemon and walnut pasta next time you need a quick fix for dinner - it’s the perfect thing to eat as you curl up with a book.