¾ cup pecan halves
10 to 12 ounces dried linguine
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4 cloves garlic
2 or 3 lemons
5 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
4 to 5 tablespoons sugar
3 cup dry white wine
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pecan halves on a rimmed baking sheet.
2. Fill a large Dutch oven 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.
3. Meanwhile, toast the pecans in the oven for six to eight minutes, stirring them halfway through, until they are fragrant and lightly browned. Cool slightly, then coarsely chop ¼ cup of them.
4. 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 ½ cup.
5. Drain the pasta, reserving ¾ cup of the pasta cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot (off the heat).
6. Melt the butter (to taste) in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and cook for one minute, then add the chopped pecans, salt and pepper; cook for one minute, stirring to coat and heat through.
7. Add the lemon juice and sugar (to taste), stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Cook for about two minutes, during which time the sauce should thicken a bit. Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water and the wine, then immediately pour over the pasta and toss to coat. Place over medium-high heat; cook for one to two minutes or just until heated through.
8. Divide among individual wide, shallow bowls, leaving much of the excess sauce/liquid in the pot. Top each portion with lemon zest, toasted pecan halves and the cheese. Serve warm.
Adapted by The Washington Post from Southern Living’s “Off the Eaten Path: Second Helpings,” by Morgan Murphy (Oxmoor House, 2013).