The ticket to a simple, fast and satisfying meal on busy days

Linguine with Roasted Garlic Cream.

Linguine with Roasted Garlic Cream.

After a hectic work day, most cooks are kitchen-weary and looking for dishes that are simple and fast to prepare. Linguine with roasted garlic cream gets A-ratings on both these fronts.

It's made with fresh pasta - linguine or spaghetti are the best choices - tossed with a delectable mixture of roasted garlic, butter, creme fraiche and Parmesan cheese. A touch of red pepper flakes and a generous handful of chopped parsley round out the seasonings.

You can serve this dish as a tempting vegetarian entree or embellish it with some skewers of sauteed shrimp and chorizo, as I plan to do. Add a salad of arugula tossed with lemon juice and olive oil, a warm loaf of ciabatta, and some homemade cookies and fruit for dessert, and you've got an undemanding yet tempting menu for post-holiday entertaining.


Linguine with Roasted Garlic Cream

Serves 4

2 large heads garlic

1 cup olive oil, more if needed

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 pound fresh pasta such as linguine or spaghetti

Kosher salt

1⁄4 cup creme fraiche

1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano Reggiano, divided

1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes plus more if desired

1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley, divided

Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 400 F.

Smash heads of garlic with your hand to break them into cloves. Lightly smash cloves with the back of a large knife so that the paper coating is loosened. Then remove and discard paper coating. Place cloves in a 2-cup or similar size oven-proof ramekin or souffle dish and pour olive oil over cloves to cover completely, adding more oil if needed. Cover tightly with a double thickness of aluminum foil and bake until cloves are very tender when pierced with a sharp knife and light golden, about 30 minutes. Watch carefully towards the end of the cooking time.

Remove cloves with a slotted spoon to a mixing bowl and add 1⁄2 cup of the oil in which they were roasted and the butter. Smash the garlic with a fork to combine well with butter and oil. (Garlic mixture can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before using.)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add linguine and 1 tablespoon salt. Cook pasta until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes or according to package directions, then drain in a colander and return to the pot. Add garlic mixture and creme fraiche; toss well to combine. Stir in half of the Parmesan, red pepper flakes and 1⁄2 cup of the parsley. Mix well. Taste and season with salt and with a pinch or two more of red pepper flakes if desired.

Mound pasta in 4 shallow bowls, and sprinkle each serving with some remaining Parmesan and parsley. Serve as a vegetarian entree, or add skewered sauteed shrimp and chorizo as a garnish.

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