Recipe 8: Oprah’s Angel Hair Pasta with Lemon and Garlic (1994)

OMG this recipe and the MEMORIES!

This recipe comes from In the Kitchen with Rosie: Oprah’s Favorite Recipes by Rosie Daley. The book was published in 1994. I was about 12 or 13. My mom had this book so that she could lose weight but I wouldn’t go near it. I thought all of the recipes in it were garbage because I was too cool for some kind of lame-o Oprah cookbook. I knew how to be in shape, thank you very much! I said all of this at the same time that I was binge eating Baked Lays because they were “healthy” and low fat, blotting my pizza on Pizza Day Friday in middle school because YM said I “could save 100 calories a slice” if I did this, and doing Elle Macpherson’s “Your Personal Best” VHS tape in my bedroom every day for fitness. Ahh, the 90s.

This book was listed as one of the most popular cooking books of the 1990s so I ordered a used copy. I could have had my mom dig it out of her cabinet but I was too ashamed to admit I was needing it in 2020. I skimmed the recipes and went with this one because no one eats pasta anymore and it looked easy and less bad than the others.

The recipe is as follows:

A common complaint is that this book does not flatten and makes cooking with the book difficult. This also makes taking pictures of the recipes because I am too lazy to retype them challenging as well.

I’m not going to lie…I looked forward to making this ALL WEEK. As I purchased the ingredients, I thought about what I ate as a teenager in the 90s. I texted my husband from work today to remind him that tonight was the night we get to make the Oprah pasta! Yes! I even put on my ck one perfume to get in the mood before I went to work. I could taste it all day.

Assembled Ingredients!

I tried to get my husband to let us listen to some Pearl Jam or Weezer or Green Day or SOMETHING to get in the 90s spirit when I arrived home but he was not having it tonight. Bummer.

The first step is to chop the tomatoes and the basil and have them ready to go. I recruited my husband to do this because he is better at it. The next step is to place the olive oil in a saute pan and brown the garlic in it. The amount of olive oil (1 teaspoonful) seems scant compared to modern recipes but I went with it. Next, measure ½ cup of white wine and add it to the pan.

I only got it because it was called Monkey Bay.
Excellent browning if I do say so myself!

Following the addition of the wine, the mixture cooks to approximately half the volume of the wine added and the tomatoes and lemon juice are added. I got a little excited (too much Monkey Bay, perhaps?) and added the tomatoes and lemon juice too soon. I ended up with this soupy mess.

I’m sure the end result was the same.

Next, cook the pasta!

Concrete proof that I can boil water!

I don’t exactly live in a bustling metropolis so finding spinach angel hair pasta was a challenge. I ended up getting spinach spaghetti because it looked tiny and was close enough.

The pasta cooks for 3 or 4 minutes (NOT the 30 or so seconds Rosie claims it will take) and it is drained and put into a warm bowl. Finally, add the parmesan cheese (we were cheap and did not have freshly grated cheese), pepper, and basil, then the tomato, wine, and lemon juice mixture.

This was the final result:


We added some garlic bread to complete our carb-overdose.

I couldn’t believe it but this really DID taste like 1995. This reminded me of something I would order off of the diet menu at an Olive Garden or Tomato Rumba’s that was low in fat so I thought it was good for me. It was dry and had very little taste but I loved every bite of it because I felt like I was 13.

Here’s one thing I don’t understand. I put 8 ounces of pasta into this dish (4 of the semolina and 4 of the spinach). Each box said that 1 ounce is a serving, and each serving (per the boxes) has 200 calories in it. Essentially, I put 1600 calories into the dish with the pasta alone. Rosie’s notes say that this dish makes 4 servings, and each serving has 291 calories. How is this math possible? 1600/4 is 400 calories, and the additional ingredients would increase the caloric content of each serving over that. There is no way that this dish divided into 4 servings would only be 291 calories per serving. I think this book needed a consult from a nutritionist. I guess it didn’t matter how many calories were in it because it is LOW FAT and that is all that counted.

Time Travel Experience: See above. For one night I was an adolescent who got diet tips from Seventeen magazine. I LOVED THIS!

Overall Experience: 10/10 (me, an emotional vote), 8/10 (husband). When I asked what we were going to do about all of the leftovers he said, “Put some spaghetti sauce on it and eat it tomorrow!” which is really the only way this would be good the next day.

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