This is a lovely recipe perfect for these hot days 🙂 the beautiful lemon note and the mint add a wonderful freshness to the dish! And a great perfume 🙂
I came back right now after some weeks in Italy, and as always I brought back with me a lot of good food 🙂 between all, I bought also some amazing not treated southern Italian lemons (400-450 grams each, huge, and not sour at all!), which are simply the best for many summer recipes. The first I made is the following 🙂 (I took the cue from a recipe of the chef Peppe Guida).
It seems a very simple dish, but it hides some “traps”: so there is to care to some steps to reach the perfect final texture.
Lemons: we need absolutely NOT treated lemons, and we need only the zest, so take care not to remove also the white part.
Pasta: the best choice is a pasta rich in starch, because this will help to reach the creamy texture we need in this recipe (but the cheese will help you too for that). Those pastas that usually have been slowly dried at low temperatures for many hours (up to 48-72 hours long), those who emanate a fresh aroma of wheat and that have a rugged surface, for example some “Pasta di Gragnano IGP” (they are often easily available also outside Italy, usually in deli stores).
This is basically all what we need 🙂 few ingredients, simple ingredients, but as always in these cases it’s important that all the ingredients used are good quality ingredients.
Let’s see how to make it!
INGREDIENTS (3 people):
- 300 g spaghetti
- 2-3 lemons, not treated (I used the zest of 2 lemons because they were big, about 400 g each)
- 100 g Provolone cheese, freshly grated
- fresh thyme (even better the lemon thyme) and fresh mint (just a little of both, they don’t have to prevail over the lemon)
- extra virgin olive oil
- coarse sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper (at your taste)
- First of all remove the zest from the lemon (a potato peeler works well), then take a bowl and leave the lemon zests to release their essential oils in 500 ml of water, all night long.
- The day after remove the zests from the water, and keep the liquid aside.
- We are going to cook the spaghetti into this lemon water and in a large pan, but I suggest to cook the spaghetti in a regular way for the first 1 and half/2 minutes, the time to make them a bit softer. So take a pot and boil some water with salt, as for a normal pasta recipe. Meanwhile take a large pan and bring to boil the 500 ml of lemon water, with some salt (not too much) and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. When the water in the pot is boiling add the spaghetti.
- After about 2 minutes drain the spaghetti from the water and drop them in the pan with the boiling lemon water, and cook them here at medium/high heat until the end. Keep mixing them, and keep the water in the pot boiling because probably we’ll need some of it to add later to the spaghetti. Cooking the pasta in this way the spaghetti will absorb all the lemon water, and the starch of the pasta will remain in our dish, making it creamy.
- Control if the salt in the spaghetti is enough, and if you see that the liquid gets shorter then add some ladles of boiling water: there must be always enough liquid, the pasta cannot get completely dry.
- When the pasta is cooked control to have enough liquid on the bottom, and add also some more extra virgin olive oil (measure with your eyes, I cannot give and exact measure, it depends on the pasta and on the cheese), then add the grated Provolone cheese and keep mixing well all together, otherwise the cheese will make lumps easily. Add also the fresh thyme, and if it gets too thick add some more boiling water. It must be nicely creamy but not like glue 🙂 this is the difficult and crucial part of this recipe, you have to dose well the liquids.
- Serve it immediately, and decorate with some fresh mint leaves and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and some freshly ground black pepper at your taste. Or even some freshly grated lemon zest if you would like, why not.
- Enjoy 🙂 another “ode to simplicity” 🙂
PS: I didn’t throw away the lemon zests, but I dried them and then I made a powder from it, which is perfect to decorate some dishes, and too add some aroma too (where the lemon fits well, obviously).
Products used in this recipe:
Pasta: spaghetti from Pastificio Gentile
Lemons: not treated lemons from southern Italy, those with a thick albedo
Oil: as always, extra virgin olive oil made by my father on lake Iseo
Fresh mint and thyme from our garden.