Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil (al Limone)

Many thanks to everyone who left kind words for Shane on yesterday’s post! They brought a huge smile to his face, he so enjoyed reading them. You guys are the best :)

We finally made it home around 8 pm last night after a long day in the car. We dropped the suitcases and bags on the kitchen floor when we walked through the door (which coincidentally is still where most of them are this morning) and immediately began looking through the fridge and pantry for a quick and easy dinner option. Pickings were slim, there’s not much food in the house right now. It was tempting to order out, but after eating out so much for the past 5 days, we were seriously craving a home-cooked meal.

Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil (al Limone)

After scrounging up a few lemons and some pasta, this dish immediately came to mind. It’s something I’ve made a few times before and I figured it’s about time I share it with you. I love its simplicity – the recipe only calls for a handful of ingredients (things I usually have in the house even when I desperately need to get to the grocery store), and you can get it on the table in under 30 minutes. A creamy sauce with lots of fresh lemon flavor coats the spaghetti, it’s comforting without being super heavy. It was exactly what we needed last night.

{PS – I miss your blogs. I will be making an effort to get caught up on visiting all of you this week!}

Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil (al Limone)
from Cook’s Illustrated, January/February 2011

1 lb spaghetti
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus more for serving)
1 medium shallot, minced
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 oz (about 1/2 cup) finely grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil leaves

Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente (check the package instructions). Drain the pasta, reserving 1 3/4 cups cooking water.

Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to a Dutch oven set over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the shallot and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot has softened, about 2 minutes. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups of the reserved pasta cooking water as well as the cream. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat under the pot and add the pasta. Toss to coat, then stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, the lemon zest, juice, Parmesan, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper. Toss again to combine.

Cover the pot and let stand for 2 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken and coat the pasta. Adjust the consistency with the remaining pasta cooking water, if necessary. Mix in the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve individual bowls drizzled with additional oil and sprinkled with more cheese, if desired.