My mom's nickname is Mamacello because she loves limoncello, a lemon-infused Italian liqueur. She likes lemon-flavored everything, including pasta—especially the one once served at the Michelangelo Hotel in New York City, at a restaurant aptly named for the same famed lemon drink. Here's my shot at lemon pasta for my mom, which I've made for her birthday supper.
Makes: 4 servings
- 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), 3 turns of the pan
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 pinches of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (a couple of glugs)
- Zest of 2 lemons, 1 lemon juiced
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (eyeball it)
- Handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 cup fresh basil (20 leaves), shredded
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, for topping the pasta and passing around the table
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and salt the water liberally. Cook the pasta until al dente, 6 to 7 minutes.
- While the pasta cooks, heat a deep skillet over low heat and add the EVOO, 3 turns of the pan. When the olive oil is warm, add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Turn off the heat and set the garlic aside for 5 minutes, then raise the heat to medium, add the wine and lemon zest and boil to reduce the wine by half, about 3 minutes.
- When the pasta is just about cooked, add a ladle of starchy pasta cooking water to the skillet with the sauce and stir in the heavy cream. When the cream is warmed through, whisk the lemon juice into the sauce and season with salt. drain the pasta and toss with the sauce, then let the pasta stand for 1 minute so it can soak up a little of the sauce and lots of flavor. Toss with the parsley, basil and a couple handfuls of grated cheese, then serve immediately. Pass around the extra cheese at the table.
- Steamed asparagus tips make a great side dish for this recipe.