yes Smokey’s or no Smokey’s

I don’t feel well, and I’m moving slower than a herd of turtles. I should be ordering take out from Smokey’s across the street, but the idea of a burger the size of my head and a feed bag of french fries, isn’t sounding too good. I have a little of that ricotta cheese left over from the other night, and a beautiful bunch of arugula that is singing to me from the refrigerator. I am going to make pasta with ricotta and arugula and if the old turtle can muster up the energy, I might even fry some bread crumbs in my extra virgin olive oil to toss in at the last minute. If you are saying to yourself “my Lord, this girl eats a lot of pasta”, you’d be right.

Cut up yesterday’s baguette into one inch cubes. Heat up enough of a delicious olive oil to cover the bottom of a saute pan. Fry the bread crumbs on at least two sides, so they are golden brown. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Get your pasta water on, season with salt so that it tastes almost like the sea, and bring it to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, slice about three to four cloves of garlic as thinly as you possibly can. There is a very cute butcher in Mercatale di Cortona called Marcello that slices garlic like nobody’s business. The last time I was talking to him, he was melting the slices of garlic into a cream with his knife and spreading it on a butterflied piece of lamb with a drizzle of olive oil, just enough rosemary, and some salt, to tie up and sear before roasting. That’s my kind of man.

Heat up your pan again over a gentle heat; you can use the oil left over from the breadcrumbs. Add the slices of garlic, and almost immediately turn the heat off, so that the garlic cooks ever so slowly to nearly golden brown. Add a pinch of salt, and if you are so inclined, now that I have been getting you all worked up over the butcher, a pinch of cayenne pepper flakes. Grate the best parmesan you have. I like Parmegiano Reggiano with this because it stands up to the spiciness of the arugula. Wash and dry your arugula well. There is nothing worse than wet lettuce. Cook about nine ounces of pasta until the white line in the middle of the noodle, and I like penne with ridges for this, has disappeared. As soon as the pasta comes out of the water, shake it well, reserving a bit of the cooking water in a cup. Immediately stir in a few good spoonfuls of ricotta, a handful of parmesan, some torn fresh basil
if you have it, and the aruguala leaves. Drizzle in your olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a spoonful of the cooking water, but only if it needs a little more sauciness.

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