Ah, lemon. Is there anything more fresh, more beautiful or more satisfying than a citrus-infused dish or dessert? I think not. A while back, Jared grabbed a gigantic sack of organic lemons from the grocery store; he figured we could put them to use before their time ran out. And use them we have (think lemon olive oil cake, lemon sponge cups, mmm…) But as the timeline on the lemons’ lives kept ticking away (it just zips by, doesn’t it?), we found ourselves with a half dozen lemons still left in the sack and logical selves that told us we better lay off the desserty business and aim for something a little more substantial and, dare I say, healthier.
This recipe for lemon spaghetti is an oldie but goodie from my favorite Food Network chef, Giada de Laurentiis. I tried it for the first time more than five years ago, and even back then, with my kitchen skills sorely lacking, it was none too shabby of a meal. This time around, however, with a little more attention to detail and confidence with a zester, I’d call it a rousing success. Light, fresh, warm and zingy: everything a happy day food should be.
From Giada de Laurentiis, Everyday Italian
• 1 pound spaghetti (thin spaghetti works well, too)
• ½ cup olive oil (the original recipe calls for 2/3, but I like it a bit less oily)
• 2/3 cup grated Parmesan
• ½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
• freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tablespoon lemon zest
• 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. In the mean time, whisk the oil, Parmesan and lemon juice in a large bowl.
Drain the pasta, and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the lemon sauce and the reserved cooking liquid (add ¼ cup at a time as needed to moisten). Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with the lemon zest and chopped basil.
I think this is one of those dishes that’s great to have in the old arsenal because it’s a snap to put together in a moment’s notice but still feels like something out of the ordinary. It’s especially perfect for a summertime dinner — or in early March, while you’re wishing for sunshine.
What’s cooking in your place these days? Any non-desserty uses for lemons? A main course or side dish perhaps? And in other news, do any other 30 Rock-watchers find that the word lemon and Alec Baldwin’s voice are now inextricably linked? He’s been hanging out in our kitchen a lot these days, that Mr. Baldwin.