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More lemon! As spring intensifies, I’m craving even more lemon and citrus. The light, fresh flavors of citrus just scream spring and sunshine, both of which are plentiful right now. I’m on a big lemon kick right now, adding it to whatever I can while I have a fresh and abundant supply. So when I came across this recipe on Cook’s Illustrated, I knew it was something I was going to have to try. Lemon and pasta… My type of dish!
This pasta was so good that I made it twice within a few weeks, and I normally don’t repeat meals that often. It was mildly creamy, but oh so lemony. And the more lemon flavor you want, the more lemon juice you can add to adjust it to your liking. As for the basil, it adds a nice splash of color, and it’s nice to use if you have it on hand, but I didn’t feel it added much to the flavor.

Spaghetti with Olive Oil and Lemon (al Limone)

Table salt
1 pound spaghetti
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil , plus more for serving
¼ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons finely grated zest
¼ to cup juice (from 3 lemons)
1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (about ½ cup), plus more for serving
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil leaves (optional)

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 1¾ cups cooking water, drain pasta into colander, and set aside.

Heat oil, cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1 cup pasta water in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat and bring to simmer; cook for 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat, return pasta, and stir until coated. Stir in ½ cup more pasta water, and remaining lemon juice if you want more lemon flavor. Add the cheese and pepper and toss until the cheese is evenly distrubuted.

Cover and let pasta stand 2 minutes, tossing frequently and adjusting consistency with remaining ¼ cup reserved pasta water if necessary. Stir in basil, if using, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, drizzling individual portions with oil and sprinkling with more cheese.

Source: Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, January 2011