Summer meals

Quick pasta dish sweet, tart and nutty

Abigail’s Sweet Lemon-Pecan Linguine
Abigail’s Sweet Lemon-Pecan Linguine
Deb Lindsey / Washington Post

Main dish

Abigail’s Sweet Lemon-Pecan Linguine

3/4 cup pecan halves

Kosher salt

10 to 12 ounces dried linguine

4 garlic cloves

2 or 3 lemons

5 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Freshly ground pepper

4 to 5 tablespoons sugar

1/3 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pecan halves on a rimmed baking sheet.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt, then the pasta. Cook according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, toast the pecans in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring them halfway through, until they are fragrant and lightly browned. Cool slightly, then coarsely chop 1/4 cup of them.

Mince the garlic. Use a zester or Microplane grater to zest 2 or 3 lemons (to taste), taking care to avoid the white pith. Squeeze enough juice from the lemons to yield 1/2 cup.

Drain the pasta, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot (off the heat).

Melt the butter (to taste) in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped pecans, salt and pepper; cook for 1 minute, stirring to coat and heat through.

Add the lemon juice and sugar (to taste), stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Cook for about 2 minutes, during which time the sauce should thicken a bit. Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water and the wine. Immediately pour mixture over pasta and toss to coat. Place over medium-high heat; cook 1 to 2 minutes or just until heated through.

Divide among four wide, shallow bowls, leaving much of the liquid in the pot. Top each portion with lemon zest, toasted pecan halves and the cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Ingredients are too varied for a meaningful nutritional analysis.

Washington Post Service

The dish comes from Abigail’s, a quaint restaurant in Rocheport, Mo., pop. 239. Its flavor will surprise you. A sweet main course might take some getting used to, but the combination seems just right for a light summer dinner. The minimal prep involved will have you sitting alfresco with a refreshing beverage in no time flat.

Serve with a salad of bitter greens and grilled or pan-roasted wedges of radicchio.

The recipe is adapted from Southern Living’s Off the Eaten Path: Second Helpings by Morgan Murphy (Oxmoor House, 2013).

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