I usually eat this all on its own, but a little grilled chicken or some nicely poached salmon wouldn’t hurt anyone. It’s an easy enough dish to make on any old day, but I really love it for date night because it’s quick, a little decadent, but not too heavy. Also you can make the breadcrumbs a day in advance—win! —Jo Thrasher
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and stir to thoroughly coat the crumbs with the oil. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the crumbs are golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. It will look like nothing is happening for a long time and then all of the sudden they will turn brown. It happens quickly, so keep an eye on them.
Transfer to a bowl and add 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 tablespoon parsley, and the grated cheese. Stir to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, salt it generously and add the pasta.
While the pasta cooks, wipe out the skillet you used to toast the breadcrumbs and bring the cream and cream cheese to a simmer over medium-low heat – making sure to whisk into a smooth mixture. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until it thickens slightly.
When pasta is just shy of al dente, reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water, then drain.
Add the pasta to sauce, along with lemon juice and the remaining zest and parsley. Toss to combine, adding some of the reserved pasta water, a little at a time, to thin out the sauce, it will continue to thicken as it sits.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve, garnishing with a generous amount of the breadcrumb mixture and reserved parsley.