when life gives you lemons, make spaghetti al limone

Meatless Fridays in Lent tend to be challenging, so I was pleased to find this recipe in this week’s e-mail from America’s Test Kitchen. Spaghetti al limone or spaghetti with lemons is light and delicately flavored with lemon juice and lemon zest. For a Friday night supper before going to Anna’s dance recital at NYU, this was so simple and easy to make.  I served it with steamed broccoli and a sprinkling of fresh oregano on top.

Table salt
1 pound spaghetti
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil , plus more for serving
1 medium shallot , minced (about 3 tablespoons)
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons finely grated zest (about 1 lemon)
1/4 cup juice from 2-3 lemons
1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus more for serving
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil leaves or oregano

1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to boiling water; cook, stirring frequently, until al dente. Reserve 1 3⁄4 cups cooking water, drain pasta into colander, and set aside.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add shallot and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook until shallot is softened, about 2 minutes. Whisk 1 1/2 cups of reserved pasta cooking water and cream into pot; bring to simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat, return pasta, and stir until coated. Stir in remaining 3 tablespoons oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
3. Cover and let pasta stand 2 minutes, tossing frequently and adjusting consistency with remaining 1/4 cup reserved pasta water if necessary. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, drizzling individual portions with extra virgin olive oil and Parmesan cheese.

spaghetti with Isaan sausage

Yesterday, Andy brought home a huge Christmas hamper filled with imported foods from Italy. I saw the spaghetti and the bottle of Passata di Pomodoro and decided to make a spaghetti with Italian sausage. But rather than try to find what I know will be an inferior Italian sausage, I decided to put in spicy Isaan sausage. Also called herb sausage, this product comes from the Northeast and has a distinctive taste. It is made of pork and spices–I tasted chilies and lemongrass among them. I bought two, already cooked and curled up so cozy, at the Seri Market, Paradise Park in Bangkok.

2 Isaan sausages cut into rings
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 x 24 1/2 oz. (720 ml) bottle Mutti Passata di Pomodoro (tomato sauce)
4 tablespoons fresh holy basil, chiffonaded
black pepper to taste
4 portions spaghetti
lightly salted water
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Put lightly salted water on to boil. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions until al dente.

Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium high. Add the onions and garlic and cook until fragrant and the onions are wilted, about 3-5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and sausage,  and cook until heated through, about 5-7 minutes. Add the black pepper to taste. Stir in the basil.

To serve, scoop cooked spaghetti into a bowl. Sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese, about a handful. Then top with Parmesan to taste. Generously spoon sausage and tomato sauce on top. I liked it; the sausage had a strong herbal taste that complemented the tart flavor of the tomato sauce. The cheese was discreet.  I served it with a lettuce salad and a simple red wine vinegar and olive oil dressing.