Posted by Stephanie Simpson on
Team! Time is of the essence!
The next few weeks promise to be some of the busiest ever. Ever! And so, when it comes to eating, efficiency is going to be key. Tastiness will also be essential: to keep my stamina – and my sanity – I’ll need to be well-sated. So, to kick of a few weeks of easy, delicious meals, I’m starting with a super-tasty dinner recipe that can be made in the time it takes to boil a pot of pasta. Good news!
Here’s the idea: while your pot of linguine bubbles away, a handful of kitchen staples – lemon juice, olive oil, parmesan – are stirred together. Throw that speedy sauce into the pot of drained, al-dente pasta alongside a handful of peppery arugula and super-fresh basil, and dinner is complete.
(Unless, of course, you’re the type to laugh in the face of fat, in which case you should absolutely top off a serving with a spoonful of that decadent and slightly-sweet Italian soft cheese, mascarpone.)
While the dish will turn out just fine using your regular run-of-the-mill lemons, it’ll be extra special if you can get your hands on Meyer lemons, a fragrant variety born from the union of standard lemon and an orange. The smooth, thin-skinned result is part-tart, part-sweet, and all happiness.
Never before having seen them in Edmonton, I found them last week nestled next to that horseman of the industrialized food apocalypse, the Grapple. Being one who covets unusual foods the way birders long for the Dodo, I took five lemons home with me. And while I had intended to play up the fruits’ unusual sweetness by baking, time precluded me from doing so. And I’m glad that it did: the mildness of the Meyer plays just as well with savoury ingredients (in fact, it plays well with 100 different things!), allowing you to add a lot of lemon flavor without leaving your other ingredients overpowered, or you puckered.
If you’re in Edmonton and want to give Meyer lemons a try – they work well here, and in all sorts of other awesome creations – you can find them at Save-On Foods and, I’m told, Costco. If Meyers are beyond your reach or your interest, use regular lemons, scaling the juice back by a third and adding a little spoonful of sugar to the juice to mellow it out.
Now, like I said: time is of the essence. Let’s get to it!
Lemon & Herb Linguine
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
Serves 6-8 (and halves easily!)
500 grams dried linguine
Juice of 3 Meyer lemons, or 2 regular lemons mixed with 1 tsp sugar*
Zest of 1 lemon
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 dried red chiles, crushed (optional)
1.5 cups grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt & cracked pepper
1 large handful arugula
1 large handful finely chopped fresh basil leaves
6 spoonfuls mascarpone cheese (optional)
1. Over high heat, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once the water’s boiling, add the linguine and cook over high heat for 11-12 minutes or until it’s al dente.
2. While the pasta cooks, whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil and chiles (if using) until combined. Dump in the grated cheese and whisk again until everything comes together reasonably well (don’t worry if little bits of cheese remain visible — they’ll get taken care of later!). Season with a couple big pinches of salt and pepper.
3. Once the pasta’s cooked, drain it and return it to the pot. Pour the lemon sauce over the pasta and give everything a stir until the pasta is evenly-coated with sauce and the cheese has melted. Add the arugula and basil and stir again to combine. Give the pasta a try and adjust flavours as necessary, adding more lemon juice, cheese, herbs, etc. as you see fit. Top each serving with a small spoonful of fresh mascarpone cheese.
*Like most citrus fruits, the skin of the Meyer lemon is intensely fragrant and full of flavour. If you don’t want that goodness to go to waste, wash your lemons well to remove any wax, then zest or peel the skin off the fruit before juicing, tossing the zest/peel into a small jar of sugar or salt. Give the whole thing a stir and, in a few days, you’ll have lemon-scented sugars or salts. Try substituting the lemon sugar for regular sugar in a pound cake, and the salt sprinkled atop roasted potatoes or shoestring french fries.
For all of you Alberta folks, Eat Alberta will be holding their second food conference on Saturday, April 14th from 8:30AM to 5:00 PM at NAIT. The day promises to be educational, tasty and a whole lot of fun, offering up:
- Hands-on sessions that will walk you through the how-tos of making cheese, bread, pasta, macarons, indigenous fare and more!
- Tasting sessions that will introduce you to amazing local fare, including fruit wine, honey, cheese and beer.
- Presentations, including a keynote session from Alberta producers from Nature’s Green Acres Farms on the importance of considering the environmental impacts of our food decisions, and a session all about foraging for wild foods. Awesome!
Registration for the conference opens today at 8:00 AM MST. For more about the event, or to register, visit Eat Alberta at www.eatalberta.ca!