Friday, December 12, 2008

Spaghettini with garlic and lemon, or News Flash: Teens and Moms don't always agree

Meal: Spaghettini with garlic and lemon
Scene of the crime: my little bohemian kitchen
Partner in crime: my 13 year old son, M
Listening to: Christmas Lounge station on

My son said that if I started blogging about cooking I'd want to cook more, to have something to blog about, and you know what? He's right. Normally on a Friday I'd order him pizza and call it a night, but tonight I found myself wandering the Von's aisles getting ingredients for one of my favorite recipes from The Gourmet Cookbook: spaghettini with garlic and lemon, on page 204.

I've made this recipe before, and it still excites me. It's the recipe that first introduced me to the wonders of adding lemon zest to food. This sauce is so simple, yet the flavors are so magical: crushed red peppers (the kind you sprinkle on pizza!), sauteed garlic, olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice. This meal is very light, and super fast to cook.

Of note: I didn't even know what lemon zest was a year ago, in fact, I had no idea you could eat that part of the lemon peel. As I type this, I even make lemon zest, does one grate the outside or the inside of the lemon peel? I suppose I should have checked. For the record, I grated the outside of the peel.

I have to cop to a few other modifications: I did not finely grate the lemon peel, as the recipe called for, I just used the cheese grater I have at home, and it tasted fine. I also omitted the flat leaf parsley, as I hate washing parsley. The parsley was not missed.

I did find myself craving some sort of animal fat this go-around. I wanted to melt some butter into it, even fantasized about frying up some bacon and crumbling it into the pasta, or even trying my hand at making a lemon and red pepper cream sauce, but in the end I simply poured myself a glass of non-fat milk and was satisfied.

My son did think this pasta was a little plain, but I think that's because he is used to pastas with heavier sauces. I don't know. He's a tough critic. I loved it.

The recipe - serves 4-6:

  • 1 lb spaghettini or capellini
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Finely grated zest from 2 lemons
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cook pasta in a 6-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water and drain pasta in a colander.

While pasta is boiling, cook garlic and red pepper flakes (to taste) in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in zest, then juice, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup reserved cooking water and bring to a simmer.

Toss pasta in sauce with parsley. (Add more cooking water if pasta seems dry.)

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