I’m obsessed with the simplicity of dishes. To me, there is no need for a meal to be overly complicated with a long list of ingredients, half of which you may never use again. Sometimes simplicity is best.
Italians are masters at this. Some of my favourite dishes like cacio e pepe and aglio e olio only require a few high quality ingredients. And I love that about it. The fact that you can whip something up in the kitchen that holds a tremendous amount of flavours with just a handful of ingredients speaks wonders to me. I’m not talking about buzzworthy or trendy ingredients like black truffles or foie gras, I am speaking to real everyday ingredients: butter, cream, cheese, pasta, pepper, lemon. Just 6 ingredients to make a luscious bowl of spaghetti al limone.
This pasta dish comes together pretty quickly which makes it suitable for a lazy weeknight dinner with a hint of indulgence. It’s creamy, yet light, with the perfect amount of zing from the lemon zest. It may be brightened with sliced scallions, chopped Italian flat leaf parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice – it’s entirely up to you.
The sauce may look a little thin and when I was making it was initially concerned. It is loose. However, once you add in the pasta water and cheese it tightens up as most cream sauces do the result is absolute perfection.
SPAGHETTI AL LIMONE – serves 4 (adapted from Bon Appetit)
1 (375g) pkg spaghetti
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 cup half and half cream
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup grana padano, grated
1 cup pasta water
freshly ground black pepper
4 scallions, sliced (optional)
In a pot of heavily salted water, cook the spaghetti according to packaged directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta and transfer to a large serving bowl.
While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Slowly pour in the cream and grate in the lemon zest. Once bubbles start to form around the edges, remove from heat and pour over the cooked pasta.
Using tongs, toss the spaghetti with the sauce and slowly add in the cheese. The sauce will now begin to thicken slowly. Pour in the pasta water and continue to toss. Although it may seem loose at first, the sauce will tighten quickly. Finish with a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and sliced scallions.