Tag Archives: pasta

Light and Easy Recipe for Spaghetti al Limone

Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil

Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil

This recipe for a light citrusy spaghetti from Smitten Kitchen’s post from February 24, 2011. It looks wonderful and reminds me of a pasta I loved in Florence on my last trip there – a real food memory. In fact, I loved it so much that we ate at the restaurant twice in four days! This would be perfect for a last minute dinner with friends – just add a simple salad, some crusty bread and you’re done! The very short ingredient list and very simple directions are perfect and could be paired with a light white wine – perhaps a crisp Sauvignon Blanc?


  • 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
  • Salt
  • 3 lemons
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil , plus additional for serving
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus additional for serving
  • Ground black pepper
  • Small handful fresh basil or arugula (what I used, deliciously, in a pinch) leaves, shredded


Cook linguine or spaghetti in well-salted water to your al dente tastes in a large, wide-bottomed pot. You’ll have fewer dishes to wash if you use this pot to assemble the dish as well.

While pasta is cooking, zest lemons until you have a little shy of a tablespoon of zest.

Juice lemons — you’ll have anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon juice.

Drain pasta, reserving 1 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water.

Dry out your pot, then boil the olive oil, cream, zest and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water together for two minutes over high heat.

Return pasta to pot and stir until coated.

Add the cheese and 1/4 cup lemon juice and toss, toss, toss everything together.

Add more pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, if you’d like your dish a little looser.

Quickly taste a strand of pasta and see if you want to add the remaining lemon juice (we did).

Stir in basil or arugula and season generously with salt and pepper. Then serve immediately, drizzling individual portions with a bit of extra olive oil and sprinkling with extra Parmesan cheese.

Not Your Usual Pasta Making Class

I’m going to confess something here, (for those that know me it’s not that big of a secret), I absolutely love pasta in all its’ forms.  I will eat it hot, cold, with or without sauce – I’m shameless when it comes to this particular carb.  But, I never actually attempted to make it at home.  I always assumed (we all know what we get when we assume anything) that it was a complicated process even though I’d been assured many times by my chef friends that it was really a very simple one.

So, when I was planning one of my Relationship Recipe events, I tapped an Italian friend, one of my experts who loves to teach people to cook, to give the group a lesson on pasta making.  He was delighted with the prospect and the event was a spectacular success.  We all learned that if we used his technique making pasta was indeed really simple to do – a little messy but simple.  I was inspired.

It naturally followed that I decided to explore pasta making classes during my recent trip to the Emilia Romagna area of Italy. I wanted to see if there was any difference from what Luca had taught us that night and the Nonnas’ (grandmothers’) technique or that of a 1 Star Michelin Chef, all of whom had agreed to teach my girlfriend and I how to make pasta.  Until this trip I hadn’t realized that you could take a class with such special teachers – they were both unbelievable experiences and completely different from each other.

My first class in Italy was with the Nonnas at Trattoria da Amerigo (a 1 Michelin Star restaurant) in the tiny town of Savigno.  It was a morning class and three women greeted us as we walked in – two sisters and a third who looked a bit younger.  One of the sisters “supervised” while the other two women worked with us.

All pasta dough starts with a “ring” of pasta flour on the work surface.  In Los Angeles my Italian friend added salt to the flour along with the whole eggs, here the Nonnas added only the eggs – no salt.  But, their eggs were very special.  They explained (in Italian through our interpreter) that they use only the eggs from chickens that are specially bred for the color and richness of the yolks.  The yolks were ORANGE – I wasn’t expecting that.  All pasta dough is then kneaded until smooth.  These ladies taught us to roll out the dough to the desired thickness.  I thought that was hard work until they showed us how to shape tortellini – that took a great deal of coordination.  It was more difficult than I thought it would be!

But the lesson was indeed inspiring and I decided to buy some special pasta flour during our visit to Il Mulino del Dottore – a centuries-old stone mill in the area that still operates daily.  I figured I would go home and make my own pasta from real Italian pasta flour!

I knew that we had another pasta making lesson planned with Chef Massimo Spigaroli who received his Michelin star in 2011 – the Executive Chef at Antica Corte Pallavicina where we were staying one night. I was looking forward to seeing what he would do differently from both my Italian friend and the Nonnas in Savigno.

Chef Massimo not only added salt to the flour like my Italian friend but also a drizzle of olive oil which neither of the other two did.  Now I was really confused as to which way was the correct way. But I learned that everyone has their own style and it just depends on how you were taught and how you like your pasta to taste.  Hum, no right way!!

Chef Massimo also used an electric pasta machine to “roll” out his pasta after he had kneaded it.  I imagine this is because he’s used to making pasta for the entire restaurant so volume is important.  What I also learned is that one batch of pasta dough can serve as many purposes as you want – it just depends on how you cut it, shape it, or if you fill it.  The best part, of course, was that we got to eat what we had made for lunch.  Delicious!  I decided to buy some of the pasta flour that they have there as well.

Now I have two different pasta flours, both purchased on my trip. I’m going to plan a night of pasta making with friends and see if we can tell any difference in texture or taste between the two.  I can’t wait.



A Recipe for a Different Kind of Carbonara

A Different Carbonara – Creamy Pappardelle with Leeks & Bacon

The author of this recipe is Sara Jenkins published in the February 2013 issue of Bon Appétit. When I’m looking at new pasta recipes (a favorite carb), I always stop at ones that include bacon. I love bacon – not a secret among my friends! This is a little different because leeks are added to provide sweetness to offset the salt of the bacon. It’s a very simple dish to make for a great impromptu get-together with friends.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise
  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 pound pappardelle or fettuccine
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano


  1. Heat oil and butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat.
  2. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 5-8 minutes.
  3. Add leeks and season with salt.
  4. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until leeks begin to brown, 5-8 minutes.
  5. Add cream, thyme, and 1/2 cup water.
  6. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 5-8 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
  8. Add pasta, Parmesan, and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce and stir to coat. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta.




Pasta Recipe: Bucatini With Tomato, Guanciale, And Chile

Bucatini With Tomato, Guanciale, & Chile

Original Recipe by April Bloomfield & Josh Evan

I love a good Pasta Carbonara, but sometimes the combo of the bacon and eggs can get a “little much”. I found this in the September 2014 issue of Bon Appétit. It looks amazing and simple AND they use tomatoes instead of eggs – it’s going to be my next pasta with friends!

  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 4 ounces guanciale (salt-cured pork jowl) or pancetta, very thinly sliced
  • ½ medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 15-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 12 ounces bucatini
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 ounce Pecorino, finely grated
  • Olive oil (for serving)
  1. Microwave rosemary on high in 20-second intervals until leaves are brittle, about 60 seconds.
  2. Remove leaves and grind to a fine powder with a spice mill or mortar and pestle; you should have about 1 tsp. (Alternatively, very finely chop leaves.)
  3. Cook guanciale in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until guanciale is browned and crisp, 10–12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
  4. Cook onion in same skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until softened and golden brown, 8–10 minutes.
  5. Return all but 2 Tbsp. guanciale to skillet and add tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and rosemary powder.
  6. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 5–8 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 8–10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  8. Add pasta and ½ cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce. Cook over medium heat, tossing and adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes.
  9. Serve pasta topped with Pecorino and remaining 2 Tbsp. guanciale and drizzled with oil.


Simple Recipe for a Night With a Friend

Simple Saturday Night with a Girlfriend

There are those nights when you’re tired but you’d still like to get together with a girlfriend. They’re easy to do with almost no planning at all.

I always keep some fresh pasta in my freezer along with a few sauces that I like to “fix”. I’m very happy with almost any fresh pasta from the refrigerated section at my market – stuffed pastas are my personal favorite. When I get them home, I separate them into individual portions and freeze in Ziploc bags. That way, I can use one package (if I’m home alone) or more depending on how many are coming to dinner.

I do the same thing with boneless/skinless chicken breasts. I cut them up when I get home and freeze in single portion bags. If you want to add protein to your pasta (for this I would use a noodle and not a stuffed pasta) simply take a bag or more from the freezer and thaw (if it’s last minute, place the frozen CLOSED Ziploc in a bowl of water and let sit. It will thaw pretty quickly). Heat some olive oil in a skillet, throw in the thawed pieces of chicken and season with salt, pepper and any dried herbs that smell good to you. Brown the chicken and slowly simmer until cooked through. Add your sauce to the same skillet and when the pasta is cooked, throw it in with the sauce/chicken mixture and toss.

I’ve found that if you add some extra spices to even jar sauces they “come alive”. I love spicy food, so dried chili flakes are always my go-to. Grab a fresh baguette from the market and have your friend bring the makings for a salad.

Of course, I always add a bottle of wine – and there you have a VERY easy, quick, complete dinner that you can enjoy with a friend with almost no planning at all.