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This Isn't Your Nonna's Macaroni

This Is Not Your Nonna’s Macaroni

PASTA WITH FRIED LEMONS AND CHILE FLAKES

Well not exactly because in this cook’s kitchen, Barilla pasta reigns supreme.  I love the flavor of their macaroni products.  I worked late tonight and I still have to pack for my long-awaited trip to Florida to see my daughter and my grandchildren.  I knew I wanted to make a simple pasta dish so tonight I made yet another version of a vegetarian pasta dish.  And referring to it as vegetarian is a bit of a stretch.

INGREDIENTS:

4 lemons

1 lb. linguine or spaghetti

4 TBS EV olive oil, more for drizzling

1 tsp kosher salt, more as needed

Pinch of sugar

3 TBS unsalted butter

3/4 tsp. chile flakes (could not find so I used crushed red pepper)

2/3 cup Parmiagiano-Reggiano cheese, more to taste

Black pepper as needed

1/2 cup celery leaves, coarsely chopped (optional)

1/3 cup parsley, coarsely chopped (optional)

Flaky sea salt, for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Finely zest 2 of the lemons and set aside.  Trim the tops and bottoms from the other 2 lemons and cut lengthwise into quarters;  remove seeds.  Thinly slice the quarters into triangles.  Blanch the lemon pieces in the boiling water for 2 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a dish towel.  Blot dry.

In the boiling water, add pasta and cook until just barely al dente.  Drain, reserving 1/2-1 cup of pasta water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet ( I used my braising pan), heat 1 TBS olive oil over high heat.  Add the dried lemons pieces and season with a pinch each of salt and sugar.  Cook until the lemons are caramelized and browned at the edges, 3-5 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

Melt the butter with the remaining oil in the pan over medium heat.  Add the chile flakes and zest of both lemons;  cook until fragrant.  Whisk in the reserved pasta water.

Toss in pasta, juice of 1 lemon, cheese, black pepper and the remaining salt.  Cook until pasta is well coated with sauce.  Toss in the caramelized lemons and the celery leaves and parsley if using.  Taste and add lemon juice if needed.  Serve, topped with a drizzle of oil, more cheese if you like, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Recipe by Melissa Clark, New York Times

This was an amazingly different, delightful and very delicious dish.   My husband was astounded, he had wondered just how these pieces of lemon were going to taste in his favorite pasta, linguine!  He was so surprised;  about every 5 minutes he said, how tasty the pasta was and how delicious the lemon pieces were.  Quite frankly, although I pride myself as someone who can discern a good recipe just by reading it – well even I was pleasantly surprised at the flavors melding in my mouth.

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