March 12, 2009

spaghetti al limone

This is a recipe from the Amalfi coast that my friend Peggy brought back from her yearly culinary odyssey which takes place in June.

The Amalfi coast is renowned for its lemons and they produce many wonderful things there with the citrus fruit, including Italy's best limoncello (nothing other than vodka steeped in lemon rinds and sugar, but the highest quality Amalfitani lemons must be used).

I like this recipe for spaghetti al limone because it feels right for the season. To be sure, lemons are in season here in winter, but mainly because we are getting them from far away, warmer locales such as Florida and California. But they are available year-round like much produce, only they aren't as beautiful and fragrant as when you buy them in winter. So I've been making a lot of recipes using lemons lately, and this one seems like a perfect dish for now as we transition from Winter to Spring and the weather is 80 degrees one day, snowing the next! It's light and easy and not too heavy on the sauce and reminds me of a simple summer meal on a boat in Capri (I wish).

In fact, there is no sauce, just as there is no boat. But I can dream. Just the juice of one perfect lemon, the best you can find whether it's a Meyer lemon or just an organic one. You don't want to use a conventional lemon for this recipe as the zest is a big part of it and they tend to be laden with pesticides if not organically grown.

Spaghetti al limone

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of fresh Italian parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup of fresh lemon juice
pinch of coarse sea salt
1 cup of pasta cooking water
1 lb spaghetti
1/2 cup parmigiano (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add salt and cook pasta al dente. While pasta is cooking, simmer on low heat 1/4 cup of olive oil, garlic, and half the parsley, for three minutes.

Add half the lemon juice and the drained pasta to the sauce immediately, toss. Add a bit of the reserved pasta water if needed to elongate the sauce and keep the pasta fluid. Add the rest of the lemon juice and the zest of one lemon. Toss again gently in the sauce pan and add some parmigiano cheese if desired. Serve immediately.

Brighten with last bit of parsley and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.

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