Meat Free Monday #3: lemon & goat cheese pasta sauce

Ok. I hit a point recently where I’m just not excited about food. It happens every so often — I’ve got a kitchen full of food, but yet I just have no interest making or eating any of it. Some of this is due to my stomach just not sitting well with the food I’ve been eating. Maybe I picked up a bug or something — or my anti-anxiety medications are having lingering effects after I quit them.*

Anyway. This MFM, and even more so just this week, I’m reminding myself that I don’t need to get all fancy or try new things. Sure, that’s fun and all, but sometimes you need to keep things simple or get back to basics. Plus, with my stomach still not sure what it likes, I just want to eat food and feel good about it. And for Monday, at least, not include meat.

Here I kept it ridiculously simple. So simple it wasn’t worth photographing. All I had was an English muffin with a little butter and cinnamon and sugar. I slept in a little, and so it was about 10:30 before I ate — something becoming a habit on my non-class days. But mostly I just didn’t want to eat a big breakfast that late then eat a lunch right after.

Again with the simple. I still had leftover buffalo chickpea sandwich spread. Rather than just do a sandwich, I put it, with some lettuce, quinoa, and ranch dressing in a giant tortilla. It was huge. Still good, though.  I also decided to have some Triscuits — cracked black pepper, my favorite kind! The only downside to this meal (other than loading up my wrap too much!) was that everything had just come out of the fridge. My teeth aren’t that sensitive, but yeah, everything was maybe a little too cold for me. Also my fault for not letting things hit room temperature and just snarfing this lunch down a bit too quickly. I’m surprised I actually paused long enough to snap a picture before I chowed down!

I decided to go back to an old staple. I haven’t really made it much here since I moved, mainly because any cheese that isn’t in a can or individually wrapped or just basic cheddar tends to be a bit overpriced. Seriously, most things here are cheaper than when I was in Chicago, but certain “special” foods are seen as “fancy” and thus marked up. But my lemon-goat cheese pasta sauce is one of my favorites. I’ve shared the recipe before. However, since then, I’ve adjusted the pasta recipe a little bit. I can’t wait to try it this summer when I get some fresh goat’s milk cheese from the farmers’ market! (And fresh spinach too!)

Lemon Goat Cheese Pasta

Creamy, salty, and rich! Also very adaptable.

  • 1/2 box pasta ((less if using spaghetti or other ribbony noodles))
  • spinach (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 cup milk ((I use almond))
  • 4 oz goat cheese (crumbled)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (or more if you like)
  • 1 pad butter
  • pinch garlic (to taste)
  • black pepper (to taste)
  1. Cook the pasta as directed. Drain and set aside.

  2. If using frozen spinach, you can add it in for the last 5-6 minutes with the pasta, but know you’ll lose the smaller pieces. Or you can cook it separate and add it in with the sauce.

  3. In sauce pan, melt a pad of butter. Once melted, add in the milk. Be careful not to scald! (My original recipe used pasta water, which you can totally skip the butter and milk if you’d like! I just like the thicker, richer sauce.)

  4. Stir in the goat cheese and let melt. For a richer sauce, you can also add in some feta and parmesan cheese! Add garlic and black pepper to taste. Parsley is good too!

  5. Return pasta to sauce and add the spinach! When reheating, it may need a tiny splash or water or milk, but generally reheats really well. That is, if you have any leftovers! Bacon, prosciutto, capers, kale, asparagus — those are all really good additions to this recipe!   

*This is the second time I’ve chosen to quit this particular medication since I was put on it about a month ago. The side effects — dizziness, extreme nausea — I just couldn’t take it. I know these take adjustments, but I lost my job from being too sick thanks to the adjustments. So when the side effects got worse even on a half dose, I just felt it was better to try something different. Whatever that may be.