Recipe: Lemon Pasta with Parmesan & Basil

Ever make the wish as you drain the last drop of Chardonnay -- that your loneliness will disappear too?

This simple yet impressive recipe personifies that ubiquitous line in a personal ad: I can easily switch from blue jeans to a ball gown. 

 It's a bowl of Martha Stewart's class with Rachel Ray's sass.

Lemon pasta with basil and Parmesan.

You'll need about 1 1/2 cups of sauce for 4 servings of pasta. If you're serving less people, the rest keeps in the fridge for a week and makes a great salad dressing.

This is a delicious recipe that's both satisfying and light. Great meal to serve to your entire family, or a first date -- to impress.

If the way to a man's wallet is through his stomach, this dish might help close that deal.  Oh, did I say wallet? I meant bank account.

Gather up your courage, (but you'll only need these):

2 Lemons to yield 1/2 cup juice
Lemon Zest
1 Cup Olive Oil
Fresh Basil ( a small bunch)
Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper

Reach for the Stars, or just grab these:

Cutting board
Lemon zester
Juicer (which can be your bare hands)
Grater (no, your whiny voice won't cut it)
Jar that closes tightly

1. Wash your lemons. They've been manhandled by filthy strangers and their oily skin holds onto germs, so they need a good scrubbing.

2. Get the zest. Run the zester across the lemons. Be careful not to go too deep, only the very outer yellow skin works.

You want a delicious sauce and you want to attract a mate.  So don't grate too far into the pith (pith is a metaphor for their nerves), it's bitter and bitter isn't attractive in a sauce or a person.

You need a heaping tablespoon of the zest, so one lemon might yield that.

Tap the zester on the board to free all of the grated lemon zest. Use the fat, safe backside of your knife to slide the peel up and into your jar.
3. Grab the juice. Cut the lemons in half. Jam one half at a time down on the juicer, hard. Be pushy and twist the lemon back and forth -- really put it through the ringer.

This is the one time you get to squeeze the life out of the relationship.

Remove any lemon seeds. You'll want to add any lemon bits that cling around from the juicing process; they provide a nice texture.

Pour the juice in the jar. Not the measuring cup -- the closeable jar you're mixing the sauce in.

4.  Add some EVOO.  Add twice the amount of oil as lemon juice to the jar. You can adjust this ratio depending on your love of lemon.

Crank it up and make it so sour that your lips are in a kiss-ready perpetual pucker. It's good to make yourself look available.

Use the best, greenest olive oil. Pale olive oil often isn't pure olive oil, it's a blend of cheaper oils.
TIP: If you put your oil in the fridge and it doesn't congeal, you've been sold the fake sushi of olive oils. Take it back, even if its partly used, and throw a fit in the store. Fits are fun and attractive.

Add salt and pepper and shake it up. Not too much salt. Remember you will be adding Parmesan to the completed dish.

Oh, did you not close the jar? Do you now have lemon juice and olive oil sprayed all over your kitchen? Once your good cry is done with, Cinderella, clean it up and start over.

Oil and water are like a first marriage that didn't quite fit; however, oil and lemon juice are like most second unions, they mix beautifully and are great together. Notice the sauce's adaptability and willingness to change; it emulsifies into creamy perfection.

5. Cook the pasta. Boil angel hair pasta, or any other thin pasta. This is a delicate sauce and can be overpowered by a meatier noodle.

Salt the water. Not only will it boil faster, but also this is your one chance to flavor the water. Make a wish as you sprinkle the coarse salt liberally, it might come true.

6. Chiffonade basil. I like saying it; I like doing it; I like what it does to this dish.

First, stack the washed leaves in a pile.

For the next step, do you list "joint rolling" under skills on your resume? While that might be holding you back in your professional career, it comes in handy here -- roll the leaves tightly into a log.

Then slice into little thin strips. They'll fall away looking like the ring you haven't gotten yet.

7. Toss in the sauce. While the pasta's still steaming hot and fully drained, dump it back in the pot (or in a bowl, if you're Martha inclined) and throw in your lusciously fresh lemony sauce.

You want your pasta-to-sauce ratio to be like a slightly over-dressed salad. No drowning here. Start with about half the sauce and toss. Taste, then add more until you get the consistency right. The sauce should be like everyone's dream date: very smooth, and just a little tart.  

8.  Sprinkle Parmesan, freshly ground pepper, and Basil. Plate immediately while the pasta's still hot and dust liberally with finely grated Parmesan cheese.

Like olive oil, buy the best. Real Parmesan comes naked, in a brick, not in a green can.

The warm pasta will melt the cheese, but don't rush it or it will get all clumpy. Remember cheese is salty, so wait until you taste the completed dish before making any correction.

Now look what you've done:

From intimate suppers with champagne and candlelight, to a sunny poolside brunch and a pitcher of mint lemonade -- this is a bowl of love.

And love conquers all.

1 comment:

  1. Greg, another quality quick meal. I can taste the delicious tartness of the lemon just thinking about it.
    Might i suggest that you use extra extra virgin olive oil rather than just single virgin oil. Yes there is an extra extra virgin olive oil, it is made from really really ugly olives.
    xo jc


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