Long ago in Tuscany, lemons hung heavy from the trees, parsley sprouted up from the ground green and meaty, and pines nuts blanketed the ground The olive trees that cover the landscape provided oil which, right after pressing, burned the throat as it went down. These ingredients, along with simple pasta, combined in a dish that could be made any day of the week, for any meal, because it included what was simplest and most easily available. What was true then is true today and I urge you to make this dish NOW! I served it to friends a couple of nights ago in Paris, when the impossibly high temperature cracked the ceiling, and it was refreshing, light, restorative. It is also terrific in the dead of winter when the sky is low, the days short. Then it brings in a hint of summer sun and warmth.
While fresh tagliatelle is the traditional pasta here, I like to serve it with farfalle, cooked al dente. Try a chilled Pinot Grigio or a lovely rosé with this dish.
LEMON AND PARSLEY PASTA
Adapted from ITALIAN FARMHOUSE
1 cup (10g) flat leaf parsley leaves, gently packed
1 small clove garlic, green germ removed
1/2 cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil
The zest from 2 lemons, cut in julienne strips
1/2 cup (15g) pine nuts
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound (500g) dried pasta (I use either farfalle or penne)
Lemon wedges – optional
- Mince the parsley leaves with the garlic and place in a large bowl. Cover with oil and stir, then add the zest and the pine nuts and stir. Season with salt (about 1/4 teaspoon) and set aside for 2 hours.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (2 tablespoons salt to 5 quarts water). When the water is boiling, add the pasta and stir. Boil until the pasta is al dente – about 7 minutes. Drain the pasta, saving 1/2 cup (125ml) cooking water. Add the hot pasta to the sauce and toss until all the ingredinets are thoroughly combined. Add half the reserved pasta water and toss, then season to your taste with salt and pepper. If the pasta is moist enough, serve immediately. If it is still a bit dry, then add enough additional water, tossing after each addition, so that it is moist.
- To serve, use two spoons and make sure that you scoop up pine nuts with each serving. Serve the lemon wedges alongside, for those who want to squeeze a bit of juice atop the pasta.
Serves 4 as a main dish; 6 as a first course